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Healthy Holidays! The Surprising Health Benefits of Laughter

Lauren Honeycutt

Psychology Specialist at Traitify | Educator, Quilter, and Lover of Musical Theatre and Muppet | Planner/Mentor in Play

In the traditional Christmas carol "Deck the Halls," the lyrics do not only encourage you to hang holly plants around the house, but they also insist that it is the time of year "to be jolly." Sure, the holidays may mean buying presents, attending parties, and cooking meals, but when you really break things down, the holidays are about spending time with family. And if your family is anything like mine, then there is certain to be QUITE a bit of laughter emanating from around the fireside.

 

When you're laughing with your family and friends, you aren't just squirreling some new comedy material in the back of your mind. The act of laughter is actually healthy for you. No, it's not going to burn off all of those extra helpings of Thanksgiving dinner, but every giggle and guffaw truly does help both your body, mind, and soul.

Are you feeling stressed because you might not finish all of your shopping on Black Friday? Not to worry — laughter is known to alleviate stress! An article from the Mayo Clinic states that laughing has both short and long-term effects on your stress level. According to the article, when you laugh, you take in more oxygen, which "stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins released by your brain." While you're feeling this relief almost immediately, in the long-term, laughing helps your immune system and may even ease pain!

 

As you let out a great big belly laugh, you may feel as though your heart is happy — in fact, it is! According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, laughter helps to prevent heart disease! Doctors aren't entirely sure why laughter helps your heart, but they believe that it all may tie back to laughter helping your stress levels. Apparently, stress affects the lining of the blood vessels which can lead to clogged arteries and eventually a heart attack. Laughter = lower stress, and lower stress = a healthy heart.

As you're gathering together this holiday season, you'll surely be making some long-lasting memories. But did you know that laughter is known to help with your short-term memory? In 2014, The Huffington Post discussed a study in which a group of elderly people who watched humorous videos were able to recall items much more successfully than those who were not shown the videos. Are you feeling the urge to rewatch that video of the jumping baby goat? I understand — you're doing it to keep your memory sharp!

It's so easy to get wrapped up in all of the preparations for the holiday season, so don't let your over-planning personality get the best of you. Remember to laugh it off with your friends and family, and enjoy this festive season.

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