By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor
For family caregivers, the mountains of laundry, the endless messes that need cleaned up, the rushing to doctor’s appointments, the complete surrender of one’s personal life and the painful process of watching a loved one’s decline is no laughing matter. You may feel like crying more often than you feel like laughing.
But many experts say that laughing in even the grimmest situations is good for you, both mentally and physically. Laughter releases stress, strengthens the immune system, improves sleep, diffuses tension, reduces pain and boosts “happy chemistry.” Laughter is the nemesis of tension; you can’t hold on to tension when you laugh.
The Science of Laughter: Nothing to Joke About
Numerous scientific studies suggest that laughter is a powerful form of complementary therapeutic medicine:
- Blood flow. Laughter causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow. (University of Maryland School of Medicine)
- Immune response. Humor raises the level of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells. (Robert Provine, professor of psychology, author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation)
- Blood pressure. Laughter lowers blood pressure just as much as cutting salt. (Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine)
- Pain relief. Ten minutes of laughing can allow up to two hours of pain relief. In a study of patients in a rehabilitation center, 74% agreed with the statement, “sometimes, laughter works as well as a pain pill.” (New England Journal of Medicine)
- Aerobic exercise. One minute of laughter is equal to 10-minutes on the rowing machine. (Dr. William Fry, Stanford University)
LOL: Why You Should Laugh Even When You Donít Feel Like It originally appeared on AgingCare.com