You’ve heard it before: laughter is the best medicine. It’s not just an adage; laughing actually has a positive effect on your brain (thanks, science!), making you feel great not just while you’re laughing but long after the joke’s over. Here are a few ways laughter can make your life a little better.
When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins in the body. These hormones not only trigger bursts of happiness and excitement, they also act as a pain reliever. One study found people who had recently had that deep-belly kind of laughter were able to withstand up to 10% more pain than those who hadn’t.
A good, hearty laugh engages your stress response, then releases it. That quick increase of heart rate and blood pressure can help you relax and overcome negative feelings like anger, sadness, and anxiety.
Laughter doesn’t just relax your mind. It has the same effect on your body. The more you laugh, the more oxygen-rich air you take in. And that air goes straight to stimulating your heart and lungs, which can make your muscles feel more relaxed for up to 45 minutes. Plus, that increased circulation can help keep your heart healthy.
After laughing, you’ll find yourself with increased energy, which means you can stay focused and get more done. Even better? Laughing stimulates both the left and right sides of your brain, encouraging both creativity and problem solving.
Negative thoughts and experiences create stress hormones in your brain and body that make you more susceptible to getting sick. Laughter decreases these hormones, helping your infection-fighting immune cells to keep you healthy.
You know what this means. It’s time to bring up your favorite comedy on Netflix and start laughing.