Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort.
Research Supporting Laughter Therapy
Over the years, researchers have conducted studies to explore the impact of laughter on health. After evaluating participants before and after a humorous event (i.e., a comedy video), studies have revealed that episodes of laughter helped to reduce pain, decrease stress-related hormones and boost the immune system in participants.
Today more than ever before, people are turning to humor for therapy and healing. Medical journals have acknowledged that laughter therapy can help improve quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. Many hospitals now offer laughter therapy programs as a complementary treatment to illness.
According to some studies, laughter therapy may provide physical benefits, such as helping to:
* Boost the immune system and circulatory system
* Enhance oxygen intake
* Stimulate the heart and lungs
* Relax muscles throughout the body
* Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
* Ease digestion/soothes stomach aches
* Relieve pain
* Balance blood pressure
* Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)
Laughter therapy may also help to:
* Improve overall attitude
* Reduce stress/tension
* Promote relaxation
* Improve sleep
* Enhance quality of life
* Strengthen social bonds and relationships
* Produce a general sense of well-being
For people living with cancer, it may seem strange to find humor when facing such serious issues. Yet, laughter can be helpful in ways you might not have realized or imagined.
Laughter can help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Laughter can be a natural diversion. When you laugh, no other thought comes to mind. Laughing can also induce physical changes in the body. After laughing for only a few minutes, you may feel better for hours.