6 Little Known Reasons Why Laughter Is Good For Your Mind, Body and Soul

We've all heard it said many times that laughter is the best medicine. You might be surprised to hear that there is  proven merit behind this old adage.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are numerous benefits of laughter. While laughing isn't a cure-all for everything that ails you, there is a growing body of evidence that this joyous human emotion provides key benefits. Here are some of the benefits of laughter that you may not be aware of:

1. Laughter is an ultimate stress reliever

Finding a healthy, free and easily-accessible method of stress relief is as easy as getting in a good laugh. Laughing causes a temporary increase in both your blood pressure and heart rate, and can leave you feeling relaxed for several minutes afterwards. Regardless of whether it was a quiet giggle or a gut busting laugh so hearty you had tears streaming down your face, one benefit of laughter is its ability to make you feel happy and to put you at ease.

2. Laughter protects your organs

Laughter can stimulate as much as it can soothe. When your circulation, muscles, lungs and heart are stimulated, your body feels more relaxed. More oxygen-rich air enters your lungs and your brain releases more endorphins. This can increase your sense of wellbeing and help relieve pain -- at least on a temporary basis.

3. Laughter boosts your immune system

In addition to reducing stress -- which has proven to have a detrimental effect on your body -- laughter can also boost your immune system. Laughing increases those antibodies that fight infection as well as your immune cells. These help improve your body's ability to resist disease.

4. Laughter burns calories and may help you live longer

You might find it hard to believe, but you can burn calories by laughing. Although you won't want to give up your gym membership just yet, laughing for just 10 or 15 minutes a day burns about 40 calories for the average person. Do this every day for a year and you could lose three or four pounds.

When it comes to longevity, a Norway study observed that people who had a robust sense of humor lived longer than those who didn't.

5. Laughter helps you stay mentally and emotionally balanced

Cultivating an optimistic and positive outlook on your life is easier when you laugh. While it can be a welcome respite from pain, stress and sadness, one benefit of laughter is that it can help give you hope, and can give you just enough release to see your situation differently. Laughter can increase your energy levels and put the brakes on emotions like anger, sadness or anxiety. Laughing can provide you with the ability to distance yourself from complex emotions. You might find yourself feeling less overwhelmed by stress and conflict through laughter.

6. Laughter helps you form bonds with others

Humans are social beings who want to belong. Laughing together helps you form a bond with others while also deepening relationships. Sharing a laugh helps you release your inhibitions and defensiveness, allowing you to set your anxieties, fears, resentment and criticisms aside.

While it's not realistic to think that every situation has a funny side or that you'll be able to breeze through each day with a good laugh, the benefits of laughter affect your body's physical and emotional wellbeing. This is a good enough reason to carefully consider what you should do to cultivate more opportunities for laughter in your life.