You’ve probably already heard that laughter can help relieve stress. But did you know its health benefits can extend way beyond just that?
A study presented at this year’s annual Experimental Biology conference says that when people laugh, their brains are activated in the same way as when people are mindfully meditating.
The study, from researchers at Loma Linda University, measured the brain activity of 31 people when they watched a funny video and again when they watched a stressful video. Researchers measured activity in nine parts of the brain. What they noted was that during the funny videos, the viewers actually activated their entire brains, with high gamma wave activity, as measured by electroencephalography, or EEG.
EEG measures electrical activity along the scalp. “The electrical activity translates to neuroactivity,” said the lead researcher, Dr. Lee Berk. Gamma wave activity is associated with increased dopamine levels and putting the brain’s cognitive state at its most alert level.
Berk explained, “What we know is that gamma is found in every part of the brain and that it helps generate recall and reorganization.” That’s why, he said, after people meditate, they feel refreshed and are better positioned to solve problems.
The studies researchers also suggested that the health benefits of laughter not only include stress and mindfulness, but pain relief and blood pressure control.
The bottom line: “Humor is evidenced to have a therapeutic value,” Berk says.
5 Easy Ways To Laugh More
Laugh with co-workers. Office humor can foster camaraderie, improve morale. offer alternative perspectives, break up tension and relieve stress, all at the same time.
Spend time with friends with a great sense of humor. Laughter is infectious. So help keep your spirits and health up by making an effort to spend time with friends who love to laugh.
Watch a comedy show, either live or on TV. Even youtube.com is filled with funny movie clips and comedy bits that can help bust the stress of the day.
Watch a funny movie. There’s nothing quite like an hilarious movie to quickly lift your spirits. Whether it’s a classic film or something currently playing in theaters, grab some popcorn and just laugh. And then laugh some more.
Tune in to radio comedy. The news on the radio is important. It is. But try balancing it out by listening to a radio program hosted by a comedian. Many people say that listening to something funny on the way to work helps them relax a little more, so that they can handle their day more calmly, and even find that they get less irritated throughout the day.