Why Laughter is the Best Medicine

on May 25, 2012

by Kim

Ever notice how a really good laugh can completely change the way you’re feeling about your day?

We know that laughing feels good, and you’ve all probably heard the expression that “laughter is the best medicine”, but does laughing have any real health benefits?

Sunday May 6 was World Laughter Day, and this year it was celebrated by over 70 countries around the world. Research has shown that laughter can boost your mental and physical health in many ways, including reducing tension and stress in the body, boosting your mood by triggering the release of endorphins (the “feel-good” hormones), building resilience and positivity, and decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

A number of different groups have already started using laughter as a way to promote their overall health, and particularly their mental well-being. One example of this is laughter yoga, a movement which originated in 1995 and is now part of programming offered by many fitness centres, schools, hospitals, and senior centres. Laughter clubs exist in many countries around the world and give people a chance to practice laughing without having to depend on outside conditions or real events in their life.

Stand Up for Mental Health is another example of a group that uses the power of laughter as a form of therapy for people experiencing mental health challenges. Counselor and stand-up comic David Granirer teaches people stand-up comedy as a way to build their confidence and positivity. David’s students also learn to see the lighter side of difficult situations they may be facing. The opportunity to laugh with others improves mood, and Stand Up for Mental Health comedy shows also fight public stigma associated with mental illnesses. Stand Up for Mental Health groups train and perform across Canada, including numerous clubs in BC, in Vancouver, Victoria, Courtenay, Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

So have you had your dose of laughter today? If not, here are some tips to help you incorporate some laughing moments into your day:

  • SMILE! Smiling is the first step to laughing
  • Spend time with fun, spontaneous people
  • Watch a funny movie or go see a comedy show
  • Do something silly

Remember – laughter is contagious, and can be a big part of building relationships. Laugh and smile around others, and they will laugh with you!

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BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.