9 Reasons Why Laughter is the Best Medicine

healthy ageing love yourself well well-being Apr 07, 2024
Female face, looking straight ahead. laughing.

The sigh after a 'just because' long belly laugh is one of my favourite things. You know the one, it's long, and your whole body moves as your sigh is expelled. It comes moments after you have tried to stop laughing but can't – tears of joy stream down your cheeks. You don't even know why you are laughing. But you are unable to stop.

Or those times when you are with your loved ones, gathered together, the vibe is positive, and someone shares a hilarious joke or tells a story so funny that you burst into a deep, hearty belly laugh. Your body shakes with merriment, and tears stream down your cheeks as you revel in the pure delight of the moment.

Those moments of laughter are pure joy that allow us to be fully present, where we have no concern about yesterday or tomorrow – they are precious.

Laughter involves our body systems working harmoniously; it is a complex series of events. First, our cerebral cortex processes the stimulus, activating our brain's reward and pleasure regions. Then signals are sent to the facial muscles, triggering the contractions to produce our expression of laughter. Fifteen facial muscles contract and the zygomatic major muscle stimulation causes the corners of our mouth to move upward into a smile. Our eye muscles contract, causing our eyes to crinkle and twinkle joyfully. Meanwhile, the limbic system releases feel-good neurotransmitters, including endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, flooding our body with sensations of happiness and relaxation. Not to mention the impact on the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.

The sound of someone else laughing often causes us to laugh, too! The rich and varied phenomenon of laughter encompasses a diverse range of sounds. It can range from short bursts of staccato laughter to a long sequence of giggles, conveying a nuance of emotions and expression. It is believed that we have 'detectors' of sorts in our brains that trigger neural circuits, which generate more laughter, hence why we believe laughter is contagious. We each have a unique laugh, a rhythm that reflects our personality and mood at the time. From hearty belly laughter to subtle chuckles of amusement, laughter's sonic structure is as diverse as the human experience itself.

There is a difference between laughter and humour, with the latter referring to the essence of something that evokes amusement through clever wit, irony, or absurdity. Whereas, laughter is the physical and audible manifestation of our emotional response to humour or joy. Laughter is your outward expression of your inner delight.

Philosopher John Morrell believes that laughter may have begun as a gesture of shared relief when danger passed. Maybe the first time someone got away from a sabre-tooth tiger, they all stood around laughing to relieve the stress. Laughter strengthens relationships and human connection.

All-round laughter is good for your health and well-being.

Here are 9 reasons why you need to laugh as often as possible:

1.     LAUGHTER IS A STRESS BUSTER. Think endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, feel-good hormones that counteract stress and promote relaxation. Laughter reduces your cortisol levels, eases muscle tension, and boosts your resilience to stress. A belly laugh provides instant stress relief, melting away tension and leaving you feeling light-hearted and refreshed.

2.     LAUGHTER SUPPORTS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM. Your immune system is vital for preventing infections, allergies, and cancer and supporting you in feeling well and healthy. Adding a good laugh to your days can help increase Immunoglobulin A (antibodies) in the mucous of the nose and respiratory passages, and laughter increases the count of natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell) to help you fend off illness and stay resilient and vibrant.

3.     LAUGHTER ELEVATES MOOD. By flooding our brains with all the feel-good neurotransmitters, laughter can alleviate depressive mood symptoms, anxiety and stress. A good belly laugh can instantly lift your spirits, brighten your mood, and promote a sense of well-being, joy and optimism. Laughter fosters a positive mindset; consider it food for your soul.

4.     LAUGHTER IS A MINI FACELIFT. Your facial muscles get a workout when you laugh, all 15 of them! You breathe deeper, and more oxygen-rich air and nutrient-rich blood supply flow to your face (which is why some people look flushed when laughing), nourishes your skin, enhances collagen production, and makes it glow. People look younger when they are happy and laughing.

5.     LAUGHTER MANAGES PAIN. Those endorphins are at play again here; they bind to the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking pain signals and creating a sense of euphoria and well-being. The relaxation felt through laughter also changes our perception of pain, as does the distraction of a good laugh.

6.     LAUGHTER IS AN AEROBIC WORKOUT. Laughing activates your diaphragm and abdominal muscles, causing them to contract rhythmically. Dr William Fry claims one minute of laughter is the same as working out on the rowing machine for 10 minutes!

7.     LAUGHTER HELPS YOUR HEART HEALTH. With the reduction in stress-related hormones, laughter helps control blood pressure; they say 10 minutes of laughter leads to a decrease of 10-20mm in blood pressure.

8.     LAUGHTER HELPS YOUR BRAIN HEALTH. Laughter is a workout for our brain, stimulating neural pathways and enhancing cognitive function. With the stress reduction from laughing comes improvement in memory, attention, and problem-solving. Generally, we share a laugh with loved ones, and this social connection also supports brain health.

9.     LAUGHTER SUPPORTS HEALTHY AGEING. Overall, laughing daily will support healthy ageing. Laughing fosters a positive attitude, and while managing stress is essential, our perception of stress is vital to healthy aging, too!


From acting as a natural stress reliever, supporting brain and cardiovascular health, to strengthening your immune system, laughter is miraculous! Laughter fosters connection and community, promoting feelings of camaraderie, empathy, and mutual understanding.

For me, laughter is a celebration of life, a joyful expression of self-love and acceptance. When I enjoy a belly laugh, I am honouring my innate ability to experience happiness and joy and embrace the beauty of being authentically me, in the present moment. I wish this for you, too!

Remember, as well as these wonderful health benefits, your laughter is a beacon of positivity and empowerment; your contagious laughter inspires others to embrace joy and embrace the present moment. Your genuine laughter creates a ripple effect of happiness, spreading smiles wherever you go. Get laughing!


OM xx


Blog posts are not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of medical advice and treatment from your doctor. Readers are advised to consult their qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Ocea Marie does not take any responsibility for possible health consequences for anyone reading or following the information available on the blog. All readers, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their doctor before beginning any nutrition or supplement program.

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