Introduction — In a world that is becoming increasingly competitive, many individuals struggle with stress management and finding a healthy outlet for their negative emotions. Chronic stress has the potential to take a toll on all the aspects of an individual’s life, affecting his or her job performance, personal relationships, and overall well-being. If a person cannot handle psychologically challenging situations on his or her own, it is generally recommended that they try therapy. Therapeutic laughter may be one of the most effective and natural solutions. This research paper will discuss the positive health effects of laughter and its use in psychotherapy.
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Laughter is a physical reaction to internal and external stimuli observed in humans and a few other species of primates that consists of rhythmic, audible diaphragm contractions. As of now, the researchers outline several types of laughter.
- Spontaneous laughter happens involuntarily when a person is triggered by external stimuli.
- Simulated laughter is self-induced without any specific reason or stimuli.
- Induced laughter happens as a result of substance use (alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, “laughing gas,” and others).
- Stimulated laughter is induced by physical activity such as tickling.
- Pathological laughter is a deliberate reaction of the central nervous system to an injury (Yim 245).
Researchers have found that laughter presents significant health benefits and triggers numerous chemical reactions in the human body.
- Laughter can relieve the effects of chronic stress by decreasing the contents of stress-related hormones in the blood.
- Laughter is associated with lower serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, growth hormone, and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, which reverses the stress response.
- Laughter has the potential to alter the activity of dopamine and serotonin in the human body (Yim 243).
Apart from natural physiological responses, laughter triggers positive psychological reactions in individuals.
- Laughter was found to be helpful in relieving anxiety and tension as it counteracts depression symptoms.
- Laughter elevates a person’s mood, boosts his or her self-confidence, gives them new hope, and provides energy and vigor.
- The ability to find something funny about everyday realities is associated with improved memory and creative thinking.
- Laughter strengthens personal bonds, triggers interpersonal interaction, and increases friendliness.
- In the long perspective, laughter improves quality of life and patient care (Yim 243).
Laughter and Stress:
- Stress is defined as a specific relation between an individual and his or her environment that is characterized by a high level of psychological pressure and tension.
- Modern society is composed of many stressors, some of which may lead to psychogenic diseases and conditions.
- Many people choose alcohol and drugs to find an outlet for their negative emotions, which is detrimental to their health.
- Since 1970, laughter has been considered both an independent and complementary form of therapy that is non-invasive and non-pharmacological.
- Today, there are many laughter therapy groups and clubs around the world that promote the practice and claim that even fake laughter can trigger positive responses in the human body (Savage et al. 346).
Conclusion — Laughing is a basic human response, and as a form of therapy, it is non-invasive, non-pharmacological, and does not require any special equipment. There are many types of laughter, including spontaneous, simulated, induced, stimulated, and pathological. When unrelated to a neurological condition, laughter presents many physiological and psychological benefits. Since 1970, laughter therapy was recognized as a valid form of therapy for treating stress, which led to the emergence of laughter therapy groups and clubs across the world.
Savage, Brandon M., et al. “Humor, Laughter, Learning, and Health! A Brief Review.” Advances in Physiology Education, vol. 41, no. 3, 2017, pp. 341-347.
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Yim, JongEun. “Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review.” The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, vol. 239, no. 3, 2016, pp. 243-249.