Laughter is truly the best medicine, especially for nurses and other healthcare workers who have a physically and emotionally demanding role in society.
This article will discuss some of the main reasons why you should take the time to make sure you laugh and enjoy the small things in life.
1. More Efficient Oxygen & Blood Circulation
While techniques like deep breathing and meditation are some of the most effective strategies for reducing stress and anxiety, sometimes people forget that laughter can be a powerful tool and sometimes take its benefits for granted.
There are several physical mechanisms that happen when we laugh that directly contribute to a reduced stress response, and it has to do with the oxygen that you intake, which is very similar to how breathing techniques are effective.
When you laugh, you take in oxygen that will be delivered to vital areas of the body that can be impacted by stress, such as your respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Although your heart rate will increase while you laugh, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it just means that more blood and oxygen will get to where they need to go. Your blood pressure, however, should still decrease.
2. Less Muscular Tension
When we feel stressed and anxious, it’s natural for the body to become very tense because it’s a response to stress and pain.
However, while it’s an entirely normal one, the stress response is still uncomfortable, and by laughing, you can reduce it by letting your muscles relax. Some of the most common areas that can be affected by anxiety are your neck, back, chest, and face.
Having tightness in these areas can make it difficult to comfortably perform your tasks each day if you are feeling stressed out on a regular basis, and over time, it can even evolve into chronic pain.
Luckily, you can loosen up by finding humor in your daily life as well as utilizing strategies like progressive muscular relaxation, which involves deliberately tensing your muscles then easing upon them in a specific order while controlling your breathing, so that you forcibly reduce tightness and anxiety in your body.
3. Better Digestion
Despite not being in very close proximity to one another, your mind and your gut are actually extremely closely related. This is evident when you feel anxious and experience sensations such as butterflies in your stomach, cramps, and nausea.
Over time, stress can aggravate digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and having these chronic issues can hamper a person’s happiness.
While changing your eating habits can certainly help you find relief for gastrointestinal problems like these, humor can calm your mind and potentially reduce discomfort in this area.
Keep in mind, though, even though there is a close correlation between stress and digestive problems, you should also try to rule out other conditions that could produce these symptoms.
4. Increased Endorphins
Another way that laughing can be a potent stress reliever is due to the fact that it helps promote the release of endorphins which have a strong connection to your sense of wellbeing.
Much like stress hormones which can wreak havoc on your mind and body, endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals that can help you relax and feel good. These hormones are often associated with physical exercise, but people often don’t realize that having a good laugh can also assist with the production of endorphins.
Endorphins can be considered a counter to stress hormones like cortisol – in fact, they are opioids that your body produces on its own, which is why they are known as feel-good chemicals.
Laughter can provide a short-term release of endorphins that can make you feel happier and more relaxed in the moment, but by learning how to find humor frequently, and incorporating a regular exercise routine, you can reap the benefits of endorphins every day and be in a consistently better mood.
5. It Serves As A Distraction
Lastly, although there are plenty of physiological reasons why humor can positively impact your happiness, at the end of the day, laughter can help individuals forget about their problems, even for just a little while.
Nursing is no easy task, and sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the responsibilities that you’ll forget to take care of yourself instead.
There are countless ways to find humor in life, and this can give you a sense of relief that can make it easier to get through your days. Some examples can include, spending time with friends, family, and coworkers, watching funny videos on the internet, and even learning how you can laugh at your own mistakes.
Being a nurse is a serious responsibility, but your entire life doesn’t need to be, and sometimes this involves needing to take a step back for a moment and find enjoyment from laughter.
Additional Helpful Resources For Nurses
As mentioned throughout this article, finding humor is an essential way to find happiness, but it’s definitely not the only solution.
Learning how to manage stress levels and find fulfillment in life can take additional focus, but it’s not something you have to do on your own. Even as a healthcare worker, it is highly recommended that you reach out to a mental health professional if you are feeling the effects of being overly stressed.
If you are looking to improve your wellbeing, BetterHelp offers many excellent resources that are based on topics such as happiness and joy, and how you can foster these positive feelings and emotions.
As you will learn there, there are plenty of strategies you can do on your own to do this, but by working with a counselor or therapist, you can receive direct feedback and find guidance catered to your personal needs.
Humor is an amazing tool that everyone is capable of utilizing, and even during the darkest and most stressful times, it can help people pull through and see the light. Hopefully, from the article, you now realize exactly why it can have a profound impact on you physically and emotionally and why you should seek out any opportunity you can to laugh and live.
This article was contributed by Marie Miguel, who has been a writer and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.