You’ve likely heard the expression: Laughter is the best medicine. What you may not know is that science actually supports it. In fact, laughter produces chemicals in the body that can enhance your physical and mental health.
How it works
Almost immediately, laughter activates and relieves your stress response so you feel more relaxed. At the same time, it stimulates circulation and muscle relaxation to soothe some of the physical symptoms that accompany stress. Over time, this can decrease feelings of depression and anxiety and improve your mood. Laughing also boosts your mental health by increasing the amount of oxygen that flows through your brain and body, which in turn releases feel-good endorphins, making you more energetic.
Coping with the pandemic
The past year has been filled with worry and disruptions related to COVID-19. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around the seriousness and grief of the pandemic. And while it’s important to identify and work through those emotions, it helps to make room for a little laughter. Humor is a healthy distraction and coping mechanism. It can lighten your burdens and strengthen your resiliency by inspiring hope, connecting you with others and releasing feelings of anger.
If you’ve been feeling down, give laughter a try! Finding humor may seem challenging these days, but it can be as simple as watching funny online videos, a favorite comedy show, a movie or a stand-up routine. Explore new ways to connect with friends and family members who bring you joy, whether it’s a quick phone call, virtual game night or gathering at the park. Spending time together inspires happiness and laughter, and that will boost your mental health.
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.