Thursday, August 18, 2011

Laughter and Stress

A good laugh does wonders to reduce tension. Now new research shows that even just anticipating laughter offers similar benefits.
You wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that laughter relieves stress. But what if I told you that just anticipating laughter does the trick too? Researchers have found that the anticipation of a positive humorous laughter experience reduces potentially detrimental stress hormones. In an earlier study, Lee Berk, DrPH, and his team at Loma Linda University found that the anticipation of “mirthful laughter” positively affected two hormones: beta-endorphins, which alleviate depression, and human growth hormone, which helps with immunity. The results were significant, increasing the hormone levels from 27 to 87 percent.
In the latest research, the good news continues: The same anticipation of laughter significantly reduced the levels of three stress hormones — cortisol (“the stress hormone”), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopac (which helps produce epinephrine).

Based on the findings, it’s clear that a great way to reduce stress is to seek out experiences that might make you laugh, even if you don’t actually giggle.

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