What Does Your Liver, Laughter, and Love Have In Common?
Part II: Laughter
Break Your Weight-Loss Plateau Through Unconventional Means
“That’s not funny!” “Why don’t you grow up?” “This is not a laughing matter!” “When will you ever start to take life more seriously?” Sound familiar? It certainly does to me. In fact, one of my most damning characteristics is to take life too seriously. I’m sure many of you can relate.
Just how serious I had become was highlighted during a recent trip to San Diego. I had traveled to this beautiful city to become certified as a Holistic Lifestyle Coach through the CHEK Institute. It was a life changing experience for me, and I learned how to BALANCE life better. At the conclusion of each day, we were asked to complete a homework assignment. One of those assignments was to “do something silly and out of the ordinary” to make ourselves laugh! My first thought was, “I paid hundreds of dollars for this?” This thought was an indictment of my character because the very part of me that uttered the disbelieving statement was the part of me that needed laughter the most!
Intrigued by this assignment, I began research and learn about laughter. Could this forgotten practice improve my health and possibly my fitness? In short, YES, and I am happy to share some of my findings with you today. Consider the following benefits:
Benefits of Laughter:
One benefit of laughter is that laughter helps your muscles relax and ease tension! For example, during the days where I am in an overly serious mode, I wind up my muscles like a fishing reel! I can always feel the tightness in my neck and in my gut. Luckily, laughing helps loosen tense muscles and relax the body.
-Sick of not laughing?
Laughter is also proven to help you boost your immune system, which, in turn, keeps you from taking those harsh pills! It does this primarily by mitigating your stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline). Additionally, it increases natural killer cell activity, or immune cells.
Only exercise equals laughter when it comes to releasing your natural feel-good chemicals. For example, laughter releases endorphins and endocanibinoids, both of which are powerful painkillers! Think of it: If you are tense all of the time from lack of exercise and laughter, you will, of course, be in pain!
-Eases Distressing Emotions
Have you ever been in a really bad mood until you ran into somebody who made you laugh? One of my personal trainers has a great sense of humor, and even during my most “pissed off days,” he can get me rolling and take my mind off of all my negative thought patterns. Give this a try: Next time you get overwhelmed with negative thinking, make yourself laugh by getting into the company of somebody funny. I guarantee you will forget about your problems.
-Promotes a Properly Functioning Perspective
The part of your brain that is responsible for higher-level thinking is your prefrontal cortex. It is often compared to the CEO of your brain. The bad news is that it can easily be high jacked by excessive stress and negative emotional energy. When this happens, it is easy to see the negative in just about everything! The good news is that a quick bellowing laugh can help reset your prefrontal cortex and get you back into your CEO chair!
-Prevents Heart Disease!
I could not figure this one out until I began to apply some basic physiology. When you get stressed and don’t laugh, you elicit a stress hormone response from your adrenal glands. Left unchecked, these hormones, along with the continued activation of your sympathetic nervous system (the branch of your nervous system that keeps you on alert), eventually begin to take their toll on your organs, blood vessels, and other vital body structures and systems. Your body can only take so much “seriousness” before it begins to physically break down.
-Eases fear and anxiety
-Increases physical resilience to emotional and physical injury
These are just a few of the countless benefits to laughter! If you need to laugh more (like me!), I would invite you to make the change today! One of the best ways I have found to laugh more is to live in a state of gratitude rather than a state of lack. When you become grateful for the things that you have rather than focusing on the things that you lack, life becomes more enjoyable and easier to laugh at! So do me a favor and go do something silly, outrageous or “stupid!” It is in these actions that you will ironically “grow up” and “grow in.” Life is good!