Laughter: The Best Kind of Medicine

The great silent film actor Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
Laughter can lift our spirits and make us feel at ease. Laughter is also good for our mental and even physical health. As we get older, we begin to lose our spirits and often forget to laugh. It is crucial that we take care of our health by finding time to laugh.
When people think of health, they often think of physical health and neglect mental health. But there are all sorts of mental health issues such as stress, depression and anxiety, all of which can be treated with laughter. Laughter can help ease the tension that comes with these conditions.
Let’s say you are stressed out about an exam. Before you start studying, you should find something to make you laugh. The release you get from laughing will lift your spirits and take away your stress, making it easier to focus. If you are feeling down in the dumps, you should watch a funny movie or an episode of your favorite sitcom. We all go through trials and tribulations in life; laughter is the best way to cope with them. If you do not take care of your mental health, it could have negative effects on your physical health.
Seeing how your physical health is affected by your mental health, it should be no surprise that laughter can improve your physical health. Laughter is good for your heart. According to the American Heart Association, laughter can increase good cholesterol, decrease stress hormones and even lower the chances of artery inflammation.
People who are always stressed out have a much higher chance of contracting heart disease than people who know how to have a good laugh. Laughing can even help you lose weight. Studies have shown that if you laugh for about 10-15 minutes a day, you can burn up to 40 calories. Now I am not saying that laughter should be a substitute for exercising or eating healthy, but it can be a huge help.
The effects of laughter can last up to 24 hours. I guess that a laugh a day keeps the doctor away.
When people get older and find themselves dealing with the responsibilities of being an adult, they often find themselves laughing less and less. Just because we grow older does not mean that we need to lose our sense of humor. In order to keep ourselves sane, we need to find something to make us laugh.
Last year was the most stressful year of my college career and it really did a number on my mental health. I decided going into this year that I would make myself laugh more. I started watching Saturday Night Live, and it has really lifted my spirits. Every Saturday at 11:30 p.m., I can forget about my problems for an hour and a half and just focus on laughing.
I am also taking Dr. Lindvall’s film comedy class this semester. As part of this class, I get to learn about the history of film comedy and why certain things make people laugh. Yes, this is still a class that requires reading books and writing essays, but it is a class that allows me to laugh.

As we enter the part of the semester when our work load increases, it is important that we take care of ourselves by making time to laugh. Laughter is the best medicine.

Michael Willson

(Photo: Val Miller | Courtesy)