Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

Laughing Is A Scientifically Proven Stress Solution

WHAT IF I TOLD YOU THAT THERE IS A SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN stress solution that’s not only easily accessible but also enjoyable? Today, we explore how laughing is a scientifically proven stress solution.

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, stress has become an unwelcome companion for many. Juggling work, family, and personal commitments can overwhelm and exhaust us.

The answer lies in something we all love to do — laugh. This essay explores the fascinating connection between laughter and stress relief, delving into the scientific evidence supporting laughter as the best medicine.

The Physiology of Laughter

To understand how laughter combats stress, let’s peek into the body’s physiological response when we indulge in a hearty laugh.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, commonly known as the “feel-good” hormones.

These neurotransmitters act as natural painkillers and mood elevators, instantly creating a sense of well-being.

Also, laughter reduces stress hormone levels, which are notorious for wreaking havoc on our bodies when chronically elevated. These hormones include adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol.

Laughter and the Endocrine System

A 2008 study conducted by Dr. Lee Berk and colleagues at Loma Linda University (USA) investigated the impact of laughter on the endocrine system.

Dr. Berk is a pioneering medical researcher studying the neuroendocrine and immune effects of positive emotions.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

The researchers found that laughter increased endorphin levels and decreased stress hormones, providing concrete evidence of the stress-relieving benefits of laughter.

Psychological Effects of Laughter

Laughter is a physical response and a powerful psychological tool for managing stress. It acts as a natural mood enhancer, shifting our focus from life’s stressors to the lighter side.

When we laugh, our minds momentarily escape from the pressures of reality, creating a mental space that allows for relaxation and rejuvenation.

In a 2003 study by Martin, participants who watched a funny video experienced improved mood and reported feeling less stressed.

The researchers concluded that humor and laughter contribute significantly to psychological well-being, offering a simple yet effective strategy for stress management.

Social Bonding and Laughter

Laughter is a social behavior that benefits individuals and strengthens social bonds.

Shared laughter creates a sense of connection and camaraderie, fostering positive relationships.

Social support is a well-established buffer against stress, and laughter is a mechanism for building and reinforcing these supportive connections.

Laughter plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining social relationships, contributing to the overall resilience of individuals in the face of stressors.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

A study by R.I.M. Dunbar and colleagues explored the role of laughter in pain reduction. The findings are interesting:

Pain thresholds were significantly increased with laughter, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds didn’t change (and are often lower).

The action of laughter-endorsed endorphin release can best explain these results.

Laughter Yoga: A Structured Approach

Laughter Yoga, a concept developed by Dr. Madan Kataria, combines laughter exercises with yogic deep-breathing techniques.

Laughter yoga, or laughing yoga, involves breathing and movement exercises promoting deliberate laughter.

Though laughing therapy has been used for decades, Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician in Mumbai (India), discovered laughing yoga in 1995.

This structured approach to laughter promotes physical and mental well-being and is a valuable tool for reducing stress.

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

An Egyptian research study studied nurses. The investigation showed a significant reduction in burnout among a laughter yoga group compared to a control group.

The findings suggest incorporating laughter into a structured program can offer targeted stress relief benefits.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Laughter into Daily Life

Now that we understand the science behind laughter and stress relief, I want to offer some practical ways you can incorporate more laughter into your daily life:

  • Watch a Comedy Show or Movie. Whether it’s a classic sitcom or the latest stand-up special, set aside time to indulge in laughter-inducing content.
  • Join a Laughter Yoga Class. Explore local laughter yoga classes or join online sessions to experience the combined benefits of laughter and yogic breathing.
  • Share Jokes and Funny Stories. Cultivate a habit of sharing jokes or amusing anecdotes with friends and family. Laughter is contagious and can create a positive ripple effect.
  • Attend Live Comedy Shows. Live performances amplify the laughter experience. Attend a comedy show or improv event for a night filled with genuine, bellyaking laughter.
  • Practice Laughter Meditation. Dedicate a few minutes each day to laughter meditation. It begins with forced laughter and will soon transition into genuine laughter, leaving you with a lighter heart and a relaxed mind.

Final Thoughts — Laughing Is A Scientifically Proven Stress Solution

In conclusion, laughter can be a potent stress antidote.

Endorphin release, reduction in stress hormones, and social bonding contribute to laughter’s efficacy as a stress management tool.

We can tap into this natural stress solution by incorporating more laughter into our lives through various means, such as watching comedies, practicing laughter yoga, and sharing humor with others.

So, the next time life feels overwhelming, remember: a good laugh might be just what the doctor ordered.

What makes you laugh?


Medika Life has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Medika Life

Michael Hunter, MD
Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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