The power of happiness: why smiling is good for you
It goes without saying that laughter is the best form of medicine. But while we all agree that cracking a smile can improve mood, what about the rest of your health? Research shows that smiling and laughter can also improve your overall health. It’s time to get serious about happiness…
It’s been proven that regular laughter helps blood vessels to expand, which can in turn lower blood pressure. In fact, some studies suggest that the effects of laughter on your heart are similar to what happens in your body after aerobic exercise (but that’s no excuse to avoid staying active!).
Laughter’s been shown to improve work stress levels – and the lower those levels are, the higher life satisfaction we tend to have. It’s thought that laughter has a general positive influence on your state of mind, which means that having a bit of a chuckle could reduce your stress levels, increase your sense of wellbeing and help you to feel better able to deal with problems.
Your immune system
Socialising with friends and laughing together not only helps to reduce stress, but could decrease your risk of catching colds as well. This is because stress can weaken immune defences, making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
It turns out that smiling could be contagious: research shows that being friends with a happy person makes you 25 per cent more likely to feel happy yourself, as the emotion can spread through social circles. Even hearing laughter – or any positive sounds – triggers a response in the area of your brain that’s activated when you smile.
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