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Laugh for Good Mental Health

As I sit here trying to decide this week's blog topic, I find myself continuously distracted by my two adorable 12-week old foster puppies. Watching them chase each other around, wrestle with each other, and trying to steal toys and shoes to chew on has me laughing quite a bit. So I figured, let's talk about laughter this week and why it is imperative to good mental health.

While looking for research supporting why laughter is important, I came across an article on the Cancer Treatment Centers of America website, which seems like it might be a surprising advocate of laughter. CTCA notes, "A growing body of research supports the theory that laughter may have therapeutic value. Over the years, researchers have conducted studies to explore the impact of laughter on health. Medical journals have acknowledged that laughter therapy can help improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. Many hospitals now offer laughter therapy programs as a complementary treatment to illness."

According to CTCA, the benefits of laughter include:

  • Boost the immune system and circulatory system

  • Enhance oxygen intake

  • Stimulate the heart and lungs

  • Relax muscles throughout the body

  • Trigger the release of endorphins

  • Ease digestion/soothes stomach aches

  • Relieve pain

  • Balance blood pressure

  • Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

Laughter therapy may also help to:

  • Improve overall attitude

  • Reduce stress/tension

  • Promote relaxation

  • Improve sleep

  • Enhance quality of life

  • Strengthen social bonds and relationships

  • Produce a general sense of well-being

If you feel like you are lacking smiles and laughter in your life, here are some great ways to incorporate laughter and fun into your life:

Smile as often as you can. Smile when you pass someone on the street. Smile when you greet your loved ones. Smile when you see something amusing. Just smile!

Spend time with friends and family who are positive, have fun, and don't take themselves too seriously. Their positive outlook may just rub off on you.

Address your stress level. When your stress is high, it may be harder for you to relax and enjoy yourself. If you need help addressing your stress, feel free to reach out to a therapist, clergy member, or trusted loved one who can help you find ways to cope with your stress.

Lighten up! Before you find yourself getting upset about things, ask yourself a few questions: "Is this worth getting upset over?" "Is the situation your problem or concern?" "Can this situation be fixed?" If you spend less time worrying about things beyond your control, you will find your outlook more positive and you will be a happier person.

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” – E. E. Cummings

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