And what if, under the Christmas tree, we put for the people we love not the same present, a cloth, a jewel or a watch, but a laugh? We are often so anxious to find the perfect gift that we forget maybe the most important thing, that feeling good and letting other people feel good, for example with a laugh, are a powerful source of energy, wellbeing and health. In fact, laughing may be considered a medicine, it helps counteract stress, insomnia and anxiety, it boosts the immune system and protects the heart, but what is even more interesting is that also hearing a laugh may be really beneficial and therapeutic. This is the result of several scientific studies, such as that published a few months ago by a Japanese team in the journal BioPsychosocial Medicine (Fujiwara et al, 2018) or the research, still performed by Japanese scientists, of 2016 published in the Journal of epidemiology.
In the study of 2016 the scientists have analyzed the habits of 20934 people above 65 years who were asked to indicate how many times they laughed aloud and their clinical conditions. What has emerged is that the people who received a diagnosis for hypertension or stroke laughed never or almost never. Moreover, who laughed never or almost never showed a risk 1,2 higher to develop a heart illness than those who laughed every day and the risk of stroke was even higher, 1,6 times bigger, for those who laughed a little than those who laughed every day. The explanation for this is that laughter soothes stress, one of the factors related to the cardiovascular risk. Moreover, laughter improves the vessel endothelial functionality, improves the arterial elasticity and attenuates the endocrine hormones involved in the down-regulation of vasodilatation with benefits very similar to physical activity. In the study of 2018 the scientists recruited 90 students, all healthy. The students were subjected to a test that requires a great deal of effort and concentration in order to cause stress. Then, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group was asked to listen for 5 minutes to a CD comprising sounds of people laughing, the second group was just asked to have a rest. Well, thanks to the measurement of the values of blood pressure and heart rate, it was possible to observe that those who listened to laughter were able to enhance the recovery process after a stress thanks to an increase of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the autonomous nervous system that prevails in case of calm and rest.
Well, a laugh doesn’t have a cost and may be really beneficial, for everybody! Merry Christmas!