Laughter isn't the only medicine, but it is the best

As college students, we are under pressure, but that doesn't mean we should be exempt from the physical benefits of joy and laughter

People are quick to discount the importance of joy, laughter and happiness, which seems silly. If you are physically healthy, you are considered "fine" in society’s eyes.

However, emotions are strongly linked to our physical wellbeing and are just as important as a source of health as any. Laughter, in particular, is often called the best medicine, which is true in more than one sense.

For example, one bout of laughter can relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes. Additionally, laughter boosts the immune system, decreasing stress hormones and building up antibodies, incites the release of endorphins, supports heart function and burns calories.

Additionally, laughter has been known to closely mirror a minor workout in character. When laughing one’s blood pressure and pulse go up and they breathe more heavily, which circulates more oxygen throughout the body. According to a study conducted at Vanderbilt University, 10 to 15 minutes of laughter can burn about 50 calories.

If that isn’t enough, a recent study conducted in Norway proved that laughter can improve longevity for individuals under the age of 70.

Although some studies have been conducted on the merits of laughter, the scientific community is nowhere near understanding it entirely.

"The definitive research into the potential health benefits of laughter just hasn't been done yet," Robert R. Provine, University of Maryland professor of psychology and neuroscience, said to WebMD.

In college, laughter, along with any other positive emotion, is important. It is a stressful time full of feelings of loneliness, frustration, and sometimes, despair. It is a time for many, especially those suffering from depression or anxiety disorders, where positive emotions aren't in the picture whatsoever.

It would seem illogical to ask an unhappy person to laugh, just for the sake of laughing. Often times, doing so wouldn’t help. Those suffering from depression often laugh to mask their mental state, and they don’t reap the physiological benefits that others would by doing so.

Rather, these people ought to seek legitimate clinical counseling. For those not suffering from depression but who are struggling with the trials of adulthood, comedy and close interpersonal relationships are good outlets to relieve stress and acquire some hearty laughs.

It seems pretty straightforward: look up funny memes or jokes on the internet. This is not the best way to do it, however.

via GIPHY

Laughter is closely linked to one’s relationships. Laughter has been found to be more common in the presence of other humans, and it is also responsible for making up a strong foundation for relationships. For example, laughter allows people to be more spontaneousrelease inhibitions and express true feelings. It is an important part of any relationship, uniting two people under a common, positive emotion.

With laughter comes joy. With laughter comes health. It is all part of a more balanced lifestyle, a lifestyle college students struggle to achieve.

“One of the reasons (the transition to college) can be so difficult is that it is near total,” Dr. Aaron Krasnow, associate vice president of ASU Counseling and Health services, said in an interview about transitioning to college. “College is this unbelievable total change, which can generate a lot of stress.”

Considering the stress put on college students, now is as good as time as any to seek relationships that bring us joy, and most importantly laughter. It would be the best for our health, after all. 


Reach the columnist at ghirneis@asu.edu or follow @ghirneise2 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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