We’ve all heard laughter referred to as “the best kind of medicine”, but many of us don’t know how significantly laughter can help our bodies and minds.
Laughter is more than just an outward expression of happiness, and is actually connected to numerous processes within the body that can help to improve overall feelings of wellbeing, health, and wellness in terms of mind, body, and spirit. Seniors can reap great benefits from taking part in activities, interactions, and experiences that make them laugh, because the very act of laughing has the power to help add some light to the day and ward off worries and negativity.
How Laughter Heals
Laughter can really be a powerful tool for healing and dealing with worries, and there are numerous positive outcomes related to health that seniors can experience by finding ways to add a little more laughter into their lives:
- Reduction of Stress, Depression, and Anxiety: The heightened levels of dopamine and other hormones that help to manage stress and anxiety that come along with laughter can be truly helpful. Also, the feelings of joy that come along with laughter can help to minimize feelings of depression.
- Higher Endorphin Levels: Laughter increases levels of endorphins, which support pain relief and promote feelings of pleasure.
- Management of Pain: Along with the increase in endorphins, known as the body’s natural painkillers, laughter can also offer a distraction, and laughing can often help to redirect attention away from pain, thereby minimizing its effects.
- Lowering of Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: The increase in vascular blood flow that occurs during laughter, along with increase in oxygenation of the blood, solidifies laughter as a powerful tool for lowering or regulating high blood pressure and, more widely, helping to decrease the risk of heart problems.
- Improvement of the Immune System: Laughter can help to decrease stress hormones while simultaneously increasing immune cells and antibodies that help to fight off infection.
- Exercise of the Diaphragm and Abdominal Muscles: These muscles are engaged when seniors laugh, and the more often this engagement is facilitated by laughter, the better shape and proficiency the muscles will be able to maintain.
Laughter is something that we hope will remain a consistent aspect of our own lives and the lives of those we love, but the unfortunate reality is that laughter often comes less frequently to seniors as the realities of their lives change and they begin to become less connected, and more isolated from people and behaviours that were once a reliable source of happiness and laughter. Living alone in one’s home and learning to deal with the challenges that so often come along with older age can create greater difficulty in finding ways to experience joy and create laughter, so seniors and their caregivers must put some purposeful thought into making sure opportunities for laughter are incorporated into seniors’ lives on a regular basis. Making sure that seniors spend enough time with friends and loved-ones, take part in activities that they find pleasurable, and enjoy things like movies, TV, and books that make them laugh can have a significant impact on creating better feelings of overall health and wellbeing for seniors in Ottawa.