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The Anti-Stress Alphabet: L for Laughter


We all have experienced some awkward situations where tension was so thick that it could be cut with a knife. Suddenly, someone makes a funny remark that starts with timid giggles and ends up triggering a general burst of laughter among those present. There are countless examples like this where laughter emerges as a highly effective natural tool to relax us and reduce our stress levels. In this post, we will explore some of these benefits.



The act of laughter is associated with various physiological reactions that help significantly decrease stress. When we laugh, our body releases a series of hormones, such as endorphins, which have analgesic effects and block the release of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. This relationship between laughter and the release of endorphins has been corroborated by various studies (Berk et al., 2008; Durban et al., 2012), which have also found other side effects, such as improved circulation and immune response.


Furthermore, beyond the more immediate physiological reactions, when we laugh, we see problematic situations from a more positive perspective and tackle challenges with more optimism and resilience, which also leads to a reduction in stress levels in our lives. Likewise, laughter helps us strengthen our social bonds, as when we laugh, we feel more connected and empathize more with others (Răban-Motounu, 2021).



To enjoy the beneficial effects of laughter, we can actively seek out situations that provoke it. What each person finds amusing is entirely subjective. Some people enjoy telling jokes, others watching comedies or humor shows, and some may even laugh while watching a political debate. The important thing is to find moments that make us laugh in a healthy way without implying mockery or disdain toward others.


There are also techniques such as laughter therapy or laughter yoga, which also include breathing and relaxation exercises that increase our sense of well-being.


However it's done, humor and laughter are simple and natural tools that can help us face life with a more positive attitude. We don't have to wait for special situations. Our everyday lives are filled with opportunities to laugh. Finding humor in the ordinary is a habit that can be cultivated, and its benefits make it worth trying.


References:

  • Berk, L. S., Tan, S. A., & Berk, D. Cortisol and Catecholamine stress hormone decrease is associated with the behavior of perceptual anticipation of mirthful laughter. The FASEB Journal, 22, 946.11. https://doi.org/10.1096/fasebj.22.1_supplement.946.11

  • M. Dunbar, R. I., Baron, R., Frangou, A., Pearce, E., Stow, J., Partridge, G., MacDonald, I., & Barra, V. (2012). Social laughter is correlated with an elevated pain threshold. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1731), 1161-1167. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.1373

  • Răban-Motounu, N. (2021). Laughter and empathy. Current Trends in Natural Sciences, 10(20), 192-202. https://doi.org/10.47068/ctns.2021.v10i20.026


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