Experts say laughter lifts spirits, lowers stress, makes people feel connected

2023-01-30 19:05:28
Experts say laughter lifts spirits, lowers stress, makes people feel connected

Experts say laughter makes us feel good, brings people closer together, lightens a workplace, and eve helps those with depression manage their condition.

“Health care is expensive,” said Natalie Dattilo, an instructor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department. “If we can find a tool that is as simple as laughter, that is free for the most part, with no side effects and has no contraindications, that would be really great.”

Nobody knows precisely why we laugh, though suspicions are that it performed an important bonding and social function in early human groups. We do know something about what it does, though.

Psychologically, it improves mood almost immediately and lowers stress and anxiety. Physically, it lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, while raising the “feel good” neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

It also hikes endorphins, which have pain-relieving effects. Scientists released a “this is going to hurt you more than me” study in 2011 that looked at the potential impact of endorphins in easing pain by showing people funny videos followed by slipping a freezing wine sleeve over an arm to see how long they could stand it. Those who’d laughed lasted longer.

In 2020, a group of Brazilian and Canadian researchers conducted an analysis of 21 studies on the impact of hospital clowns on more than 1,600 children and adolescents suffering an array of symptoms, including anxiety, pain, stress, cancer-related fatigue, and crying.

The research found that children exposed to the merry jesters were significantly less anxious during subsequent medical procedures, regardless of whether a parent was present, and experienced improved psychological well-being.

Read full article at Harvard Gazette


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