Common folk wisdom has told us that laughter is 'good medicine'. Yogi's have known intuitively for thousands of years that deep "belly laughing" is good for you. Now, science is catching up and beginning to show how laughing helps us. Recent studies show that the muscle movements required for a powerful laugh release "feel good" chemicals in the brain called endorphins. These brain chemicals can improve your mood and reduce your perception of pain. Additional studies on the benefits of laughter show that it can also lower your blood pressure and improve your immune system functioning.
It's important to note that deep, powerful, and prolonged laughter produces the best results over an intermittent, restrained giggle. Give it a try by placing your hand on your belly, inhaling deeply, and laughing out loud (sort of like Santa Claus- "Ha Ha Ha", "Ho Ho Ho"). Feel the muscles of the belly move in and out as you make the sounds. It may seem awkward and 'fake' at first, but if you keep it up you may find yourself moving into a feeling of laughter as well.
In addition to practicing the belly laughs, look for opportunities to bring more laughter into your life. Watch more comedy movies; notice details and share funny experiences with friends or colleagues; look for the irony and humor even in difficult or challenging situations.
You'll feel less anxious, lighter, and more alive!
Dianne Fish, LPC
Austin Serenity Counseling & Wellness