One minute of anger, stress, or anxiety weakens the immune system for four to five hours, while one minute of laughter boosts the immune system for over twenty-four hours. I’ve read these profound statements in several different places recently. I believe scientists are on to something. When chatting with a friend recently, I was reminded that anger causes stress. That conversation provided inspiration for this post. Read on to see how stress and laughter affect the immune system.
How the Immune System Works
Better Health Channel explains the immune system as follows:
- The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection.
- The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.
- Abnormalities of the immune system can lead to allergic diseases, immunodeficiencies, and autoimmune disorders.
For those reasons, it is important to keep our immune systems at peak performance.
Why Anger and Stress Are Unhealthy
Think about it for a minute. When something or someone angers you, your blood pressure rises, your heart races, and you get a sick feeling in your stomach. I know I do. But did you realize that the sick feeling you get can manifest into something more sinister if it persists?
The sick feeling resulting from anger or stress spreads throughout the body, wreaking havoc on all organs. It has been scientifically proven that stress has been linked to many health conditions and disease states.
Why Laughter is Healthy
Conversely, after a good laugh, you feel great and stress or tension is relieved. This improves your mood, your outlook, and even your physical appearance! Check out a previous article listing the specific scientific benefits of laughter.
Laughter is contagious as well. Difficult or awkward conversations or situations can be diffused with some levity.
Have you ever noticed that some people giggle or laugh awkwardly when stressed? It may appear that their laughter is insensitive or inappropriate, but alternatively, most likely their way of trying to diffuse the stress or awkwardness. I am one of those non-confrontational people that prefer to diffuse rather than fuel a volatile reaction.
Replacing Anger and Stress in Your Life
If you find yourself in any situation that evokes prolonged and unresolvable anger, angst, tension, stress, or sadness, move on and let it go before you cause any permanent damage to your health
Personal relationships are trickier to remove yourself from, especially the long-term ones. The process is much easier said than done, with lots of complications. Professional counseling, however, will most likely encourage extrication from these relationships and offer detailed steps on how to do so.
The Covid pandemic has resulted in a major increase in mental health issues. Fortunately, awareness of these issues and support for those affected have increased as well. Many governments are now willing to spend money on mental health programs, including online options.
Stress and laughter both affect the immune system. Stress impairs it while laughter improves it. In other words, aim for more laughter and less stress in your life for maximum health beneffits.