The benefits of a good laugh are wide-ranging and can include protection from emotional issues like depression and improving the health of your heart. Although you probably cannot laugh off depression, one of the many benefits of laughter and a sense of humor is that they buffer you against the negatives of life that could lead to depression. As a bonus, examined research shows that people who use humor to fight stress also feel less lonely and more positive about themselves. And one recent study found that humor therapy was as effective as widely used antipsychotic drugs in managing agitation in patients with dementia.
Laughter is also one of the most used complementary therapies among cancer patients, who find that one of the benefits of laughter is an improved quality of life. Several researches indicate that when you laugh, there is an increase in oxygen-rich blood flow in your body, possibly due to the release of endorphins, which create a chemical rush that counters negative feelings and stress. Activities that increase endorphins include a good workout and listening to music you love, and laughter deserves its place on the list with these other stress busters.
Note: Esther Diaz is a health education teacher who lives in suburban Atlanta. She is our contributor.
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