• Jenny Christiansen

Laugh a Little!

I was about two days old when I had my first picture taken. In my white hospital sweatshirt, there was something very evident. It was a set of deep-set dimples deeply woven into my chubby cheeks.

As I have gotten older, they are not quite the same shape (more elongated for some reason, wink wink). Nevertheless, my dimples have been something people have noticed about me, whether it was an aunt loving to pinch them or elementary school friends asking me why I had "holes in my face."

For years I remember complaining to my mom that my "dimples hurt." She would belly laugh and say, "Oh really, how come?" The fact was when I laughed a lot my dimples did hurt. According to Genetic Australia, shortened facial muscles that cause dimples are genetic defects. So when a person smiles, the shorter muscle on the face pulls up the skin creating a dimple. No wonder they hurt! I am happy to say that today, they never do-I have worked them out to the max! I love to laugh, and it should be something we do daily.

According to an article on HelpGuide.org:

Laughter is good for your health because 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.

Laughter burns calories. OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don't laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

The article goes on to say that there is a link between laughter and mental health:

Laughter stops distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Laughter helps you relax and recharge. It reduces stress and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more.

Laughter 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 and diffuse conflict.

Laughter draws you closer to others, which can have a profound effect on all aspects of your mental and emotional health.

So, how do you get more laughter into your life?

1. Smile!

2. Find a funny family member, friend or co-worker to hang out with.

3. Watch a funny movie or read a book of riddles.

4. Play a board game.

5. Hang with a baby or small child they are full of joy.

6. Be grateful, and reflect on the funny moments of your life.

Laughing is a great workout AND keeps the blues away! Give it a try today!

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