I love how the brain works! It's incredible that you can purposefully activate certain functions in your brain to help keep you happy and healthy. Brain science might seem dull and boring, but this isn't! As a matter of fact - it's sure to put a smile on your face because we are going to talk about laughter 😂 and how it can change our brains. It may seem funny, but the research is real. (so punny!)
We've all heard it said, "laughter is the best medicine". It is indeed good medicine, but we have to laugh often to experience lasting benefit. And, it needs to be the right kind of laughter for it to be an effective antidepressant.
You've probably noticed that laughter doesn't happen easily when your thoughts are really dark. Although dark or sarcastic laughter is better for you than no laughter, it is not the best medicine - that is for sure. Some studies show that understanding dark humor is the sign of a genius,1 but let's face it - there are a lot of depressed geniuses in the world! The kind of humor that you have to be cautious with is the kind that makes you feel guilty, causes embarrassment, or is demeaning to yourself or others. It may be funny, but it decreases the mental boost we get from wholesome, whole hearted laughter.
Increase Your Opportunities For Healthy Laughter
To get the long-term benefits of this free antidepressant, you need to laugh frequently. If you laugh infrequently, you may be unconsciously suppressing your laughter. Just making a point to let your laughter out can be helpful. But very often, our mood prevents us from laughing - even when things are funny.
To help you be in the mood to laugh, you might need to first change some other neural pathways. If you feel poorly, mentally or physically, it's hard to laugh, but if you laugh, you are likely to feel better. So why not do all the things to give your life more levity and kiss depressive thoughts goodbye?
Here are some tips to help you feel ready to laugh:
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WHAT CAN LAUGHTER DO FOR YOU?
Enhances Neural Connections - Different kinds of laughter produce different kinds of neural pathways.2 Joyful mirth or wholesome, whole hearted belly laughing produce the kinds of connections we need for improved mental health. Laughter is one way to purposefully activate your brain and grow healthier and happier neural pathways.
A Natural Opioid - Social Laughter is good for building strong relational bonds because social laughter causes a natural opioid release in our brains.3 Laughing together helps us feel more calm and comfortable being ourselves and helps us feel like we are a part of the group.
Laughing with your partner is also considered social laughter and provides the same benefits. Dr. John Gottman, has been called the nation's top relationship expert and the world's top relationship researcher. He says, "Couples who laugh together, last together." - Now we know why!
Protects Your Heart & Brain - Laughter can increase blood flow and reduced blood pressure. As you know from the last newsletter - two things that improve brain health are increasing blood flow and decreasing toxins. Spontaneous laughter and belly laughing are especially good for improving blood flow.4 5
Essential oils are proven to change neural pathways.6 With all the benefits laughter gives your body, brain and relationships - let's get in the mood to laugh more! Joy Essential Oil blend is a go to for me.
What do you need to be relaxed and ready to laugh? Do you need to reduce your stress? Relieve pain? Or start looking at the bright side of life with a heart of gratitude? Whatever it is, now is the best time to take action.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and have a few good belly laughs! 😂 😂 😂