Laughter is healthy, there is even a Children for Children song dedicated to it. Is a smile really healthy for you? Oh yes! Scientific research proves that a lot of good things happen in your head and body when you laugh. Even when that smile is not real, but made.
So even fake laughter is healthy? Good again! We explain why.
This makes (fake) laugh with your stress hormone
When you laugh, you produce different happiness hormones in your body. They make you feel satisfied and happy. The endorphins that are released block your perception of pain and therefore it also works analgesic or at least pain-reducing. Your blood pressure also drops when you laugh and it relaxes your muscles, making you feel more comfortable. Moreover, stress decreases considerably during a laugh. The stress hormone cortisol can even decrease by 38 percent, according to research.
Other research shows that it doesn’t even matter if your smile is genuine or fake. So you can manipulate your happiness by fake smiling a few times every day. In both the group of people with a real smile and the group of people with a fake smile, a lower heart rate was observed during exposure to a moment of stress.
A fit of laughter at inappropriate times
That a fit of laughter relaxes you is also evident from the theory about laughing at inappropriate moments. Those moments when you know it’s really not possible, but your body still decides at that moment that you have to laugh. This is also called inappropriate laughter. Director of the Psychological Oncology Program in Melbourne Steven Ellen says: “Inappropriate laughter is very interesting. We all do it, I do it very often myself. It can be really tricky. You can be talking about a very tense subject and your body suddenly reacts by laughing.”
According to Ellen, the inappropriate laughter may be a psychological response of the body to fear, tension and nervousness. Your own body makes you smile to relieve tension. It can even happen during intense or traumatizing moments and unfortunately there is nothing you can do about it. Nor is it an insensitive reaction: inappropriate laughter happens precisely in sensitive people who need to get rid of their fear and not in people who are less sensitive and can control their laughing muscles.
Why you should smile more often
- So laughing is healthy, not only for yourself, but also for others. With a big smile you can make a stranger feel good: it is contagious.
- Laughter reduces cortisol, or the stress hormone, in your body
- During a fit of laughter, both endorphins and dopamine are released in your body and those hormones give you a happy and relaxed feeling.
- Endorphins also have an analgesic effect, one of the reasons that the CliniClowns are used to make sick children laugh.
- Your blood pressure drops during and after a good laugh.
- Are you not feeling well? Try to force a smile, you manipulate your own body with it in a positive way.
- People who smile are seen as more attractive, smarter, warmer, sincere, friendlier and more sociable.
How Laughing More Can Really Make You Happier (according to science)
Did you see a mistake? Mail us. We are grateful.