2 May 2021 – Celebrate World Laughter Day
Celebrated since 1998, World Laughter Day is an annual event celebrated to raise awareness about laughter and its many healing benefits.
The day also promotes the thousands of community groups around the world – typically known as Laughter Clubs – who regularly practice simple intentional laughter techniques that promote wellness and overall well-being.
Humor is also a way to increase retention of information in academic or professional settings because of the higher number of mental connections between the information and emotional responses (laughter).
The first celebration was on May 10, 1998, in Mumbai, India, and was arranged by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement.
Dr. Kataria, a family doctor in India, was inspired to start the Laughter Yoga movement in part by the facial feedback hypothesis, which postulates that a person’s facial expressions can have an effect on their emotions.
Here are the health benefits of laughing:
1) Relaxes whole body: Laughter relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
2) Boosts the immune system: Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
3) Triggers the release of endorphins: the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
4) Protects the heart: Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
5) Burns calories: Laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
6) Lightens anger’s heavy load: Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
7) May even help you to live longer: A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much.
In a very general sense, laughter is a painkiller, and reduces the stress and anxiety of physical ailments through the same biological process that is outlined above. Laughter is also a social mechanism, by which we make friends and connect with others. We often laugh at other people laughing, or at banal statements that are decidedly un-joke-like. The social phenomena of laughter is an important aspect of humor, but its’ connection to health is not widely studied, and would be better suited to anthropology than health and nutrition.