Laughter is Good Medicine: Movejoy for Stress Relief Activities

Lavinia Errico

Incorporating humour and playfulness into your relationship keeps it fresh and fun. It also fosters emotional connection and reduces stress.

Laughter is the body’s natural stress reliever. It exercises the diaphragm and stimulates the lungs, releasing pent-up energy.

Humour and playfulness can also used as a tool for conflict resolution.

Relieves Stress

Laughing and play on a regular basis are effective stress reducers. Humour helps you take things less seriously, gives you a better perspective on situations and allows you to make more flexible decisions. Laughing also increases social connection and can be a powerful tool to help smooth over conflicts, lower tension levels, diffuse anger, and encourage forgiveness. Laughing releases endorphins that known to relieve pain and make you feel good physically as well as emotionally.

Adding humour and laughter into your daily routine is simple and can done in a variety of ways. Watch a funny movie or TV show, go to a comedy club, read the funny pages, spend time with a pet (or look at pictures of pets) or simply make time to have a playful conversation with your loved one.

Being aware of what triggers you to laugh can be helpful as well.

Try to notice when you start laughing or smiling and then intentionally engage in those activities more often. Incorporating fun and laughter into your daily routine is an easy way to improve your emotional health, strengthen relationships, find greater happiness, and even add years to your life.

Humour can also be a useful tool to use with romantic partners, friends and co-workers as it can diffuse conflict and increase your ability to solve problems. Laughter can used to create an immediate shift in the body’s fight or flight responses to stressful situations. It can also help you to place a more positive and optimistic lens on situations that may have seemed threatening in the past, which will allow you to see them as more manageable over the long term.

Being able to laugh and play can especially valuable in crisis situations, where opportunities for emotional relief, joy and laughter are limited. This is why Clowns without Borders is committed to sharing laughter and play with children and communities in crisis around the world. Our work is based on the methodology of Plan International and we believe that play and laughter are essential to social, emotional and physical development and wellbeing.

Fosters Emotional Connection

As humans, we often use laughter to make a connection with others. This is why humour and play are a great way to build intimacy with your partner. Shared laughter creates a bond of closeness and connection that can reduce stress, improve overall happiness and help you cope with challenging situations.

Laughter is also an effective social bonding tool because it signals to the brain that the person you are laughing with is safe and trusted. This feeling of safety and connectedness can help you feel more open to sharing personal thoughts, feelings and worries with your partner, which will ultimately strengthen your relationship.

There are many ways to infuse humour and playfulness into your relationship, from telling a joke or making a light-hearted comment to engaging in playful activities. You can even try a playful exercise like laughing yoga, which is similar to regular yoga but involves prolonged voluntary laughter.

They are more likely to report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction with their relationship. In addition, the benefits of laughing together can extend to other relationships in their lives. Couples who laugh together are more likely to be emotionally close and report a stronger sense of belonging with their family, friends and other partners.

The chemistry that develops in the brain during laughing is similar to that which occurs during intimate interactions, such as kissing and hugging. This may because both kissing and hugging trigger oxytocin release, which known to promote feelings of bonding and trust.

In a study conducted by the University of Michigan, researchers found that couples who laughed together experienced more positive emotions and felt closer to their partner than those who didn’t laugh with each other. This relationship satisfaction was independent of the participants’ own unshared laughter, which suggests that shared laughter is a unique signal of closeness and bonding.

Spending time with a pet is another excellent way to inspire laughter. Laughter from playful pets is especially contagious. You can also listen to a funny podcast or watch a comedy show with a friend, or even host a game night. Ultimately, laughter is a powerful stress-relieving tool that can help you feel more connected to those around you.

Rebalances the Nervous System

Laughter and playfulness help rebalance the nervous system, making it more resilient to stress. Laughing activates the same neural pathways that are activated by feelings of joy, mirth, and happiness, and it stimulates the release of feel-good hormones such as endorphins, which can ease social tension and promote bonding. Laughter also increases creativity by increasing cognitive functions and can even change how you perceive events.

For example, if you are in a stressful situation and find humour in it, the joke or situation may not be funny to others, but you are changing how you see it, which called reappraisal. This is similar to the way tickling can used to simulate a potentially stressful situation and create laughter. It is theorised that this type of playful behaviour has evolved to serve the purpose of releasing stress, promoting bonding, and recontextualising and disengaging from negative emotions and experiences.

When you laugh, your body releases a natural painkiller called endorphins and stimulates blood flow, which helps relax muscles, decreasing tension and anxiety. This can also decrease stress hormones and increase infection-fighting antibodies, improving the immune system and boosting resistance to diseases.