What would the world be like if we didn’t have laughter?
I don’t want to imagine it, and neither do you.
For as long as anyone can remember laughter has been considered a key ingredient to a happy life. It is also one of the most accessible medicines there is; one that costs you very little but delivers a lot.
Laughter has been linked to the following attributes:
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
There is also a reported synergy between laughter and mental health:
- Laughter can help to dissolve distressing emotions
- Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.
- Humour shifts perspective, allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. A humorous perspective creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
For carers of dementia, laughter not only has the ability to help the carer relieve stress, it has a major impact on the person receiving care too. In 2013 a report aptly named the SMILE study, was conducted by a group of Australian researchers, who set out to discover whether humour could improve the lives of people living with dementia.
Over the course of three years, humor therapists were tasked with getting 400 dementia-stricken people to giggle more often. Their efforts produced an impressive result: a 20 percent reduction in anxiety – the same amount as a typical antipsychotic medication, according to lead researcher, Lee-Fay Low.
To summarise things, here’s video from a care home at our friends down under, highlighting the beauty of introducing laughter into care