The power of a good chuckle

Published March 6, 2023

Author JoAnna Snider

“Why did the police officer arrest the celery? Because he was charged with stalking.” Ba Da Boom! Did you at least snicker?

As we’ve started a new year, let’s take a moment to really assess how often do we laugh at situations, ourselves or just in general? It’s amazing how something so simple can have far reaching impacts for us.

Laughter is powerful medicine. Research shows that laughter is a great stress reliever. It often can ease a tense situation and bring a sense of respite to a conflict. It can unify people as laughter is a universal language.

There is more to laughter than just the stress relieving effects. Laughter can have all kinds of positive physical effects on our bodies.

It stimulates organs in your body such as your heart, lungs, and other muscles as it increases oxygen-rich air flow. It further helps decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. Improved circulation and muscle relaxation are side effects of a good knee slapping laugh. Hearty laughter even works those abs!

Laughter increases the “feel good” endorphins in your brain; effects which last longer than whatever it was that made you laugh. This, in turn, improves your mood, lowers anxiety and overall increases feelings of wellness.

On a longer-term basis, the effects of engaging in laughter on a regular basis improves your immune system. Laughter reduces stress which likewise decreases the amount of stress hormones in our system. Stress hormones wreak havoc on our immune response. Laughter helps counter those effects.

As if I haven’t listed the benefits of laughter enough…here’s one more great side effects. Laughter may ease pain. When you laugh it seems the body produces its own natural pain killers and those get released into your system.

Now it may seem like there isn’t much to laugh about these days. Family stress…work stress…inflation…finances! YIKES! So how do we get the tickled juices flowing?

First, find things that make you laugh and incorporate them into your day. Is there a certain comedian you like to listen to? Maybe a favorite comic strip or jokes you find humorous? Find ways every day to take a few minutes to read that comic strip or watch some videos.

On a bigger scale, take an evening and watch re-runs of shows you enjoy…maybe it’s Golden Girls or Friends. Find a humorous podcast and listen in traffic. Go to a comedy club for your next date night.

Learn to laugh at yourself and situations. Real-life is some funny stuff and most of the time it is funnier than any video or sitcom. Find the humor rather than a perpetual negative outlook. It works wonder on your perspective.

Spend time with people who you find fun and entertaining. Know a friend who always has the best jokes or stories? Spend time with them. Share your jokes and stories as well.

Finally, learn what things are and aren’t funny. Generally, laughter at someone’s expense or a joke that is hurtful isn’t funny in the long-term or for everyone. Keep your humor light and easy going. Then you never have to worry how your humor will be taken by co-workers, friends, or others in general.

So go ahead and give a good belly laugh a try. Get the corners of that mouth turned up into a smile—even if it feels like your face is cracking from lack of use!

It might feel a little forced or fake initially, but it won’t be long before you experience a true snicker or giggle. I bet you’ll feel a little less tense afterward. Definitely feeling more relaxed and in a better mood? You just had a shot of some powerful medicine.

“Why was the energizer bunny arrested by the police? Because it was charged with battery!”  Have a good laugh today!

As always, feel free to reach out the Psychological Services. Our number is: 832-394-1440.