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Laughter, the best medicine

 Laughter, the best medicine (Photo: iStock)

As we navigate life's enriching and mysterious journey, prioritising mental wellness becomes paramount for all of us. Beyond the well-documented physical benefits of exercise and a balanced diet, recent research suggests a surprisingly potent tool readily available to us all, laughter.

This seemingly simple act far from being a frivolous indulgence offers a multitude of advantages for our cognitive and emotional well-being.

Studies published in The Journals of Gerontology’ demonstrate a link between laughter and a sharper mind. Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins. These are the body's natural mood elevators which also enhance cognitive function and memory.

A hearty chuckle can act as a mental jog, improving information processing and short-term memory recall.

Also, laughter has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, potentially promoting neurogenesis and creating new brain cells, which is crucial for maintaining cognitive health, especially as we age.

The emotional benefits of laughter are very compelling. A shared laugh with friends or watching your toddler imitate you fosters feelings of connection and belonging, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation which are common concerns for older adults.

Laughter also acts as a potent stress reliever. Research shows that laughter triggers the release of cortisol-regulating hormones, leading to a reduction in stress hormones and a corresponding improvement in mood.

This stress reduction can in turn contribute to better sleep quality, a vital component of overall mental and physical health.

And here is the thing, laughter does not require elaborate set-ups or expensive entertainment. Far from it. Surrounding yourself with positive and humorous people can be a simple yet effective way to incorporate more laughter into your daily life.

Sharing lighthearted stories, watching funny movies or even reading humorous posts can elicit those precious moments.

Engaging in activities you find enjoyable whether it be spending time with loved ones, pursuing a cherished hobby or simply enjoying a beautiful sunset, can also create a natural environment for laughter to arise.

While laughter offers a multitude of benefits, it is important to acknowledge that its impact can be subjective.

Some individuals might find certain forms of humour more appealing than others. The key is to find what sparks genuine joy and amusement for you. Look for what works for you and let it be a safe stress release.

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