The Healing Power of Laughter

November 29th, 2010

By Wendy Kovacs, LMFT
HCC Senior Clinician

Ever wonder why a good laugh feels so good? Research from William Fry, Jr. shows that our heart muscles get stronger when we laugh. C.W. Metcalf and Roma Felible say that laughter lowers blood pressure and increases flexibility and creativity. They also found that the endorphins released during laughter reduce physical and psychological pain. Dr. Lee S. Berk found that laughing boosts health-protecting hormones and reduces stress hormones. Laughing has also been shown to be helpful to facilitate social interactions, cooperative activities, and bonding by strengthening the feeling of group unity and well-being. Laughing can physiologically help discharge the tension that accompanies painful emotions such as fear, anger, and loss by releasing the buildup of cortisol and other toxins.

When we become stressed, we produce chemicals that decrease our ability to have fun and make connections to others. People who are in survival mode (including children) tend to have consistently high levels of stress chemicals present in their systems. Thankfully however, even forced or deliberate laughter challenges the stress response!

So what does this mean for you and your family? Find reasons to laugh together! Here are some ideas to tickle you and your kids’ funny bones:

  • Look up kids’ jokes on the internet and read them to each other.
  • Find a funny children’s story.
  • Sing a song like “You are my Sunshine” at the top of your lungs. Try singing it in different styles like Country, Rap, or Opera.
  • Share an embarrassing moment.
  • Have a laughing contest and see who can laugh the longest or the loudest.
  • Try the opposite, have a serious face contest and see who can keep their face serious for the longest.

In other words, use any excuse that you can find to laugh together. It may impact your family for longer than you think!

Email or call us today at 847.256.2000 to have one of our therapists see you in the comfort of your home. We make arrangements to meet in an office when it’s preferred or desired.