Dr. Amy Sickel,
Director of Clinical Psychology Training
and Assistant Professor at Kansas City University

The best medicine often comes in the form of laughter. It not only improves your physical health; your mental health can be impacted as well. Dr. Amy Sickel, Director of Clinical Psychology Training and Assistant Professor at Kansas City University (KCU) took time to go over the benefits of laughter and emphasizes how it can impact your life and health. “How we think, how we feel and what we do are all connected, if we find something funny and we laugh, we’re going to physically feel better. If we’re in a really grumpy mood and we intentionally start laughing, then that can begin to shift our mindset and change the way we think about a situation.”

The Connection Between Laughter and Your Health

Laughter can positively impact the body in multiple ways. One-way laughter can improve health is by reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Another health benefit is it allows us to take in more oxygen which overall allows our bodies to operate more efficiently. “When we begin laughing, we take in more oxygen, and so that is good for our lungs, for our heart. It also switches off our stress hormone of cortisol, and it turns on the endorphins and that helps us feel better as well. And long term, that has good improvement for our immune system. There are many, many benefits to reducing stress,” Dr. Sickel affirms.

Making Intentional Choices for Laughter

Life is full of many choices. Being intentional with your choices for a positive life is vital for human health. One intentional choice for overall better health can be a conscious choice to incorporate laughter into everyday habits. Dr. Sickel advocates to start small and bring joy and laughter for yourself, like wearing a pair of unicorn socks that no one can see. Another way to incorporate laughter into your daily routine is surrounding yourself with intentional moments to lighten up your day, for example signing up for a “joke of the day” or choosing to watch a light-hearted movie instead of a movie about heartbreak.

Laughter and Connection

Laughter can create connections and strengthen our bonds with others. Making a conscious choice to acknowledge funny moments such as accidentally wearing your shirt inside out. Being honest and laughing about it with a coworker can lighten up the day and bring your connection closer. Honesty and connection are vital aspects of healthy relationships. Understanding how laughter can affect the body in numerous positive ways can be beneficial to live a healthy life. Making intentional choices for laughter daily can reduce stress, improve connection and improve your health. Laughter truly is one of the best medicines you will find.