By Victor Ogunyinka
When was the last time you laughed at yourself over the minutest thing? Well, while you are at it, experts have revealed that laughter could perform as many healing miracles as possible.
One weird thing about laughter according to psychologists is that, it is not solely a product of jokes. As a matter of fact, when jokes are being told, unless the listener understands the hidden meaning of the joke, it might pass for a sour-grape.
Laughter sometimes could be impulsive as a result of deep thinking when one is alone; it could also be a reaction to an irrational decision taken by someone. Dorcas Babalola, a student revealed that she sometimes laughs at herself for getting a simple sum wrong.
Wikipedia defines laughter as a physical reaction in humans and some species of primate, consisting typically of rhythmical, often audible contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system.
Adeyinka Adefemi, a Psychologist and social analyst explained that laughing and smiling are inherent in human biology. Newborns smile in their sleep, infants can laugh especially when tickled at four months, he said. He added that the number of muscles used in smiling or frowning is quite insignificant because research has not been able to give an accurate number of muscles involved in both because of the authenticity or contexts of either a smile or frown.
The many benefits of laughter cannot be over- emphasised. Apart from some persons (maybe sadists) that physically get angry and uncomfortable at the sounds of some laughter or those that think it is a sign of unseriousness, laughter to a large extent is a natural and affordable solution to a broken heart; no wonder the holy book says “a joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
According to experts, laughter is good for one’s health. Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving the muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter boosts the immune system. A good heart-felt laughter, such that it make the tummy ache is equivalent to about 10 to 15 minutes exercise.
Adefemi added: “The negative effects of laughter if they exist (though have not been found) cannot be compared to the positive effects. Laughing reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and gives us a quick burst of energy. A good laugh can be beneficial to the lungs, and could even burn off calories.”
Furthermore, more benefits of smiling and laughter include an increase in blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland, United States of America, studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally; expanding and contracting easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.
Another student, Phebian Adegbite revealed that whenever she had a good time laughing, over an action or something, she slept better at night.
A 2002 study in Psychological Reports revealed that even those with zero sense of humour could also benefit from laughter by just faking it as it could go a long way in improving their mood.
A social media user, Balogun Bunmi also said that whenever she got so entrapped in conversations with friends on social media and she derived happiness in the process, she instinctively uses the short code ‘lol’ (laughing out loud) even when she wasn’t laughing. She further conceded that her mood improved after such conversations.
Adefemi added that laughing really hard increases one’s stress responses, heart rate and blood pressure, thereby leaving one feeling really relaxed.
“Some studies have shown that the ability to use humour may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well. One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy.
“After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture. Laughter and smile also help us relax and sleep better. It makes you look more confident, successful and attractive even better than the entire make up,” she said.
Researchers also hinted that there are only negative effects of not smiling or laughing. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect the body by bringing more stress into the system and decreasing the level of immunity. More muscles involved in frowning cause wrinkling of the face.
As the saying goes, if you don’t have what to laugh about, laugh on credit.