A Good Laugh Goes a Long Way
It’s no secret that stress, if left unchecked, can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other health issues. Those who have lived the longest in the original Blue Zones areas of the world have routines for minimizing stress. They call it “Downshifting,” one of the Blue Zones Power 9 principles for longevity and better well-being.
There are plenty of strategies for shaking off daily stressors, such as meditation, exercise, journaling, nutrition, and stretch breaks. The Be Healthy Wellness Program offers a variety of tools and activities that directly support downshifting. But while stress is no laughing matter, the simple act of laughing has been found to be great a coping mechanism.
Research shows that laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and boosts immunity. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – and produces a general sense of well-being. In fact, hospitals nationwide are building formal and informal laughter therapy into their treatment programs. Humor is a universal language. The domino effect of a good laugh is more contagious than a sniffle, a cough, or a sneeze. A shared laugh also connects people and gives them a sense of joy and closeness.
According to Laughter Therapist and author of We Need to Laugh More, Enda Junkins, “Anyone can join the laughter movement. All it takes is a willingness to risk some loss of control. The timid may start with a few shy giggles. The courageous may jump in with deep belly laughter. A sense of humor is not required.” So, the next time stress is getting you down, remember that laughter is fun, free to all, and has no known negative side effects.