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Is Laughter the Best Medicine, and How Can You Get More of It?

Laughter isn't the best medicine for every illness or issue. It's not going to cure your toothache, for example. But it can help you forget your woes for a moment, and it actually does have some physical benefits for your body. Find out more about the benefits of laughter below, and then get out and take part in some of the fun assisted living community activities at Bethesda Gardens in Phoenix. They're sure to provide the opportunity for laughing with friends.

The Benefits of Laughter

Laughter can help reduce pain. According to studies, laughter increases endorphins in your body that help you feel joy and happiness, and this can block some of your body's messaging about pain. The same receptors in your brain that drive those laughter endorphins are the receptors that bind with opioids in prescription pain relievers. Scientists aren't quite sure what the exact relationship is, but it seems like laughter gives a natural (and safe!) high.

Laughing with others can also foster cognitive performance. That's because laughs are a lot more complex than you might think. Different laughs mean unique things, and our brain has to make connections between those relationships. When we laugh or hear someone laugh, the brain forms a connection. And all that cognitive functioning means our mind is going to work, which is always a good thing to stave off potential memory issues or other cognitive decline.

But getting your funny bone tickled doesn't just help with pain and brain function. It can also uplift your mood. When you laugh, your brain emits serotonin. That's a natural chemical in your body that impacts a range of functions, including mood and sleep management. Serotonin is also a key component in many antidepressant medications, which means when you laugh, you could be giving yourself a dose of something that helps you fight off depression.

Laughing with others also helps you form and share social bonds. Laughing heartily at a shared joke creates a commonality you can return to in the future and can make you feel more comfortable with another person.

Finally, laughing may be good for your cardiovascular system. Some of the hormones that laughter releases in your body — or simply the act of laughing itself — may reduce inflammation and help blood vessels and your heart do their jobs more efficiently.

Certainly, you can't laugh your way out of a heart attack or treat your diabetes with great jokes alone. But incorporating laughter into your days can improve your overall quality of life. It can also be a great addition to a healthy lifestyle that includes good diet and exercise and regular checkups with your physician to manage any conditions or medication needs.

Tips for Getting More Laughter in Your Life

Want to fill your life with the benefits of laughter, but not sure where to start? Consider some of these options.

Enjoy assisted living activities. From scheduled games to exercise classes, you're sure to find joy and laughter when you involve yourself with others in the assisted living community. Go into each activity with an open mind and don't take yourself too seriously, and laughter will probably follow. Just remember to laugh with others and not at them, as mean laughter is less likely to have a positive impact on your life than joyful laughter.

Share stories and conversations regularly. Talk regularly with other residents and swap stories about grand kids, yourself and your life. Everyone has a few funny stories to tell, and when you spend some conversation time over a cup of coffee, you'll likely enjoy a good laugh or two.

Encourage family to relay fun stories. Encourage your family members to call or email you with fun stories on a regular basis. One of the best ways to fill your week with laughter is to hear adorable or hilarious stories about your grand kids.

Watch comedy entertainment. Whether you're tuning in to local television, streaming on Netflix or renting or buying movies to play in your DVD player, choose a healthy helping of comedy. Light comedies are a great way to balance out more dramatic entertainment, and they often let you step away from the realities of life for an hour or two filled with laughter. To get even more joy from comedic film and television, consider sharing it with others.

Read funny stories and books. You can also get your comedic entertainment in books. From romantic comedies to satire, you'll find plenty of reading material capable of giving you a chuckle. Authors such as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Dave Barry are known for their humorous works, for example.

Laughing is a great way to enjoy yourself more, and it has some physical benefits for your body. You might not always feel like laughing, but that may be when it would be most helpful. So, get out of your assisted living apartment and seek out opportunities to laugh with others and enjoy these benefits.

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