Stress and Laughter and the Immune System

How Stress and Laughter Affect the Immune System

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.

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 recognise 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 is 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.

How Stress and Laughter Affect the Immune System
Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

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.

How Stress and Laughter Affect the Immune System
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

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.

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A Photo A Week Challenge: Laughter

This is my granddaughter excited to see her new baby brother for the first time. He was born in April, 2020 when siblings were not permitted to visit new arrivals in the hospital, so big sister had to wait until he came home…

A Photo A Week Challenge
meeting baby brother!

This is (still) one of my favourite pictures of this granddaughter!

Laugh or Cry

What’s that saying again?  If you don’t laugh, you will cry….something like that.  With the exception of the true introverts that are enjoying these social distancing, quarantine or self-isolation times, the rest of us feel often feel like crying. Or pulling our hair out.

But then we find something to laugh about and it does cheer us up, if only for a short time.  These are a few of the laughter inducing pictures circulating on Facebook that  I have saved over the past few months. I hope they make you laugh too, as laughter is indeed the best medicine …

 

This one refers to our Canadian Prime Minister. When he sticks to his scripted notes, he sounds quite reasonable.  Otherwise, maybe because of the fact that he was a drama teacher before he became PM, this happens…

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And, I would be remiss if I didn’t add a few about the POTUS, as there have been lots…

 

I hope I provided a chuckle or two.  If you have other sources of laugher, please share them!

 

Feature picture (top) credit to Pexels

Laughter is (still) the best medicine

I know I have written about laughter before, but I saw this video Marc Cramer posted on Facebook this morning and just had to share…

laughter is contagious!

This video is proof that a good chuckle is contagious, to anyone and anywhere. It has also been proved to be medicinal with its amazingly positive affect on every organ in our body. Even our immune systems and the condition of our blood vessels are boosted by a good laugh.

Have you ever noticed that people who are asked what they look for in a partner say they want someone that makes them laugh? That’s because laughter makes everyone, from babies to seniors feel good.

I bet everyone watching and listening to that man (stranger) laugh felt great for a long time afterward. I know I did.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the Best Medicine

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Way back in grade nine I had an assignment to write an essay on a one-word subject; my word was laughter.  Of course, I cannot remember exactly what I wrote, but I do remember getting a great mark on it.  I also remember researching, yes researching, laughter, and learning how good it is for you.  Today, laughter is still recommended as one of the best medicines…

There are many reasons laughter is good for you:

  •  Laughter activates the portion of your brain that produces endorphins which  are natural pain killers.
  • Laughter can boost your immune system by increasing the production of cells responsible for making antibodies and enhancing the effectiveness of T-cells.
  • Laughter therapy is used to relieve stress and anxiety, relaxing the whole body.
  • Laughter causes our hypothalamus to release nitric oxide which causes the inner lining of our blood vessels to dilate.  This dilation increases blood flow and so improves the function of the blood vessels, which can prevent heart disease. Nitric oxide is also beneficial in reducing inflammation as well as preventing platelet clumping in our bloodstreams.
  • Laughter can reduce levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
  • Laughter can improve your mood and add joy to your life.
  • Laughter can strengthen relationships, reduce conflicts, and improve teamwork.

Laughter is a physical reaction involving contractions of the diaphragm of humans (and some primates) in response to either external or internal stimuli, yet is usually an expression of a positive emotional state, such as joy, happiness, or relief.

Laughter is a natural and free form of medicine that can provide physical and emotional benefits to everyone. 

Beware though, laughter is also very contagious!