Humor offers a host of physical and psychological benefits

girls-laughing-in-grass-350Humor in its myriad forms has been around since the dawn of humanity. Research has shown that even chimps and other primates laugh, indicating that humor has been around even longer than we have been.

“Humor is everywhere,” says Scott Trefny, MA LMHC, a senior rehabilitation therapist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division in White Plains. “For example, laughter is one of the first things a newborn responds to and does, and from there on, it becomes a virtual staple in life. Studies have shown that laughter occurs much more frequently than other commonly researched emotions, such as regret, pride, and shame.”

bigstock_Portrait_of_Caucasian_mother_a_12816071The old adage is that laughter is the best medicine, and from both a physical and psychological standpoint, there is real truth behind it. Physically, laughing can actually have some of the same health benefits that exercise does — increasing blood flow, strengthening the immune system, decreasing levels of blood sugar, and helping people to relax and get a restful sleep. Cautions Trefny, “Of course, laughter cannot replace a regular exercise regimen, and it’s never been proven to be part of a weight loss plan.”

People who can laugh — or at least have a good sense of humor in this stressful world — will also tend to have a more positive attitude, better overall health, and generally, be able to adapt to challenges and changes more effectively.

laughter-337x244“As a general rule, people would much rather be around others who not only can keep things light and laugh; they really appreciate people who can laugh at themselves,” says Trefny. “On the other hand, someone who is perceived as taking themselves too seriously or who is not comfortable unless he is laughing at someone else is apt to hold onto more stress and have negative thoughts about the world. People tend to be uncomfortable and avoid others who they have to consistently ‘walk on egg shells’ with.”

There’s no doubt that incorporating humor into your everyday life — at work, at home, and at play — can be a win/win for all involved.

Top 5 benefits of humor

  1. People will gravitate toward you: Humor used appropriately and wisely, is a great way to win friends, influence people and build trust. The more approachable you are, the more honest and open people around you will most likely be.
  2. Humor is a stress buster: It allows for a cognitive shift in how you view your stressors, making them more manageable and helping you overcome them that much easier.
  3. It’s a tension breaker: Humor is a way to neutralize strained or pressure-packed situations by helping to put people at ease.
  4. Humor helps unleash creativity: It helps people to better formulate ideas, lower their internal critic and see things in new ways. It also plays an important role in making new mental connections you may have never thought of before.
  5. It promotes productivity: This is particularly true in the workplace setting. Humor helps create an upbeat atmosphere that encourages interaction, brainstorming of new ideas, and the proverbial “thinking outside the box.”

“Laughter does not help someone overcome challenges, but it can help us to frame challenges and changes in a more effective way so we do not get caught up in our own negative thinking about the possible disastrous results that these challenges present to us,” sums up Trefny. “People who can share a good laugh are probably ones who can more easily get down to the business of solving their problems that much more effectively.”à

SOURCE: Lohub (USA Today)

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