NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, July 27, 2020

The Benefits of Laughter For Your Health and Mental Health

You've probably heard the saying, "Laughter is the best medicine" which hints at the physical and mental health benefits of laughter.  In the past, I wrote an article, Humor Can Be Helpful in Psychotherapy, which explored how humor can sometimes increase the effectiveness of therapy.  In this article, I'm focusing on how laughter benefits both your physical and mental health.

The Benefits of Laughter For Your Health and Mental Health

The Benefits of Laughter For Your Health and Mental Health
Laughter is beneficial for your mind and your body because it:
  • strengthens your immune system
  • elevates your mood
  • reduces pain
  • protects you against the harmful effects of stress
  • inspires hope
  • helps you to connect and bond with others
  • keeps you grounded
  • relaxes your body
  • eases stress and anxiety
  • strengthens resilience (see my article: Developing Resilience)
  • diffuses anger
  • reduces inhibitions
  • helps you to feel recharged and energized
  • increases your ability to use your imagination and increases creativity (see my article: Using Positive Imagination to Cope)
Adults Need to Seek More Opportunities For Laughter
Most children tend to laugh many times a day.  However, adults tend to be more serious, and they don't laugh as much as children. Therefore, adults, who want the health and mental health benefits of laughter, need to seek out more opportunities to laugh.

You can seek out these opportunities to include more laughter in your life by:
  • watching a funny movie or TV show
  • watching standup comedy
  • playing games with friends
  • spending time with people who are funny
  • playing with your pet
  • reading a funny story
  • sharing a funny cartoon with friends 
  • engaging in laughing yoga
  • being grateful for what you have
  • being "silly"
  • taking an improv class
  • sharing true stories about yourself with others (see my article: The Psychological Benefits of Storytelling)
Examples of How to Bring More Laughter Into Your Life

After realizing that she wasn't having as much fun as she used to, Sue decided to join an improv class, which was recommended by a friend. She had never taken an improv class before and, initially, she felt intimidated. But on her first day of class, she discovered that most other people in the class had never done improv or any type of comedy before, and they were feeling just as inhibited as she was feeling. By the second class, she realized she really liked her instructor, who made learning improv fun easy.  So, after a while, Sue opened up more and allowed herself to just have fun. She realized that she had not laughed so much in years, and she decided to take the next improv class when it was over.

Although he enjoyed painting in his free time, Jim found it to be too solitary an activity, especially since he already spent a lot of time on his own as an online editor.  He didn't look forward to spending even more time alone doing his artwork.  However, at the suggestion of a neighbor, he offered a free art class to the children in his apartment building, and while he was working with the children, he realized that not only were they having fun, but he was also having fun with them.  This group activity with children helped him to feel energized, and it allowed him to spend time alone doing his own artwork.

As mentioned above, there are many physical health and mental health benefits to laughter.

Sometimes, you need to experiment with different activities to find one that you enjoy.  If you approach this exploration with a sense of curiosity and playfulness, you'll discover an activity that's just right for you. In addition, you'll begin to experience the benefits of laughter.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex therapist (see my article: The Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I provide teletherapy, also known as online therapy, telemental health or telehealth for clients (see my article:  The Advantages of Online Therapy).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation with me, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.