Laughter is the best medicine. It’s a common phrase people usually hear and take to heart at times, especially during trying times. Most people know that laughter affects everyone around them. But are there scientific facts that support that saying?
The evolution of laughter
An article posted by the American Psychology Association took a look into where human laughter came from. It states that since Charles Darwin’s time, scientists have found that chimpanzees and primates produce a panting sound when tickled. Though it sounds different from a human’s laugh, scientists state that this is where laughter evolved.
Neuroscientist Robert Provine wanted to find out the connection of human laughter to behavior. In his studies, he found plenty of interesting facts. For one, laughter is more common in social situations than when in isolation. He also found out that in conversations, individuals usually laugh at their own jokes than those who are hearing them.
Provine also discovered that often, people use laughter to punctuate a conversation. If we recall our own experiences, we will realize that whenever we send text messages, we end the sentence with “haha.” This conveys a less serious tone that is useful in communicating a non-serious and less stressful matter.
Provine also found a connection between the primates and humans’ laughter. He says that primates produce the panting sound during play; in human terms, these are social situations.
Laughter is social
As scientists discover that laughter is inherently social, we can concur that to be able to laugh. We need to have connections with other humans. Human connection is essential for a person’s happiness. Laughter is an indication that a person is happy.
Robin Dunbar from the University of Oxford studied the link between laughter and happiness. By asking participants to watch videos that induce laughter, he found amazing results. These participants are found to be less sensitive to pain. It’s because through the contraction of muscles when laughing, endorphin, a happy hormone, is released.
Pain resistance is important, especially when a person is suffering from health or even personal problems. When going through difficult problems, laughter can help in alleviating the pain.
Laughter and stress
Laughter is related to stress. When you’re stressed, laughing is not on top of your mind. Yet, as much as you can, try to find ways to laugh; science has proven that laughing can help remove stress.
The University of Augustine for Health Sciences discusses scientifically proven ways where laughter cures stress. It says that laughing provides a distraction to stressful problems. Therefore, the brain is given a mental break from stressors. The release of cortisol, a stress hormone, is also decreased when a person laughs.
Laughter is also found to help reduce the risks of hypertension. High blood pressure is commonly experienced when a person is stressed. When you laugh, it’s hard to feel stressed. A study on patients undergoing treatment supports this statement. In the study, these patients were asked to listen to comedy. Within eight weeks, researchers have found that these patients have lower blood pressure.
Laughter is good for the heart
A person’s laugh definitely gives warm feelings, but it can literally help your heart muscle and cardiovascular functions, too.
As discussed above, laughing decreases blood pressure; this is great for the heart as it reduces the risks of heart attack and stroke. At the same time, laughing promotes the intake of oxygen. Oxygen is essential for the heart to function properly; having enough oxygen prevents you from suffering from heart-related diseases.
If you hate working out, laughing can be a substitute for your cardio. By laughing, it gets your heart pumping. Studies have also shown that one hour of laughing burns the same calories when walking slowly.
With scientifically proven health benefits of laughter, people are encouraged to laugh more. Some people may feel the need to suppress their laughter, though. Because laughter and smiling entail showing teeth, people who may have insecurities in the area may try to cover their face, or worse, try to laugh in isolation.
However, scientists have proven that laughter best works in social situations. To smile freely in front of other people, there is an easy fix to teeth problems. Dentists offer different services for teeth corrections, such as braces and retainers. However, if you feel more embarrassed as an adult with braces, you can seek the help of an Invisalign specialist.
The most important thing is to laugh without hesitation. By doing so, you are helping yourself stay away from health problems. Do not attempt to fake laugh, though. Studies have proven that doing so can be more harmful than helpful. You don’t have to fake it; take a cue in the scientists’ research studies. Simply reading memes or watching a funny video can easily make people burst into a laugh.