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5 Ways Laughter Can Strengthen Your Mental Health

By Joanie Marx November 09, 2023 Mindset

Do you remember the catchphrase, “Calgon, take me away”? During the 1970s and 1980s,”Calgon, take me away”, was a ubiquitous phrase for stressed-out women everywhere.

With television and print campaigns featuring women who sought to escape the effects of being overwhelmed, Calgon bath products became the go-to solution for many who wanted to take a vacation from the hectic rigors of reality.

But what about laughter?

Could it be that after all these years of our generation being bombarded with products to help us escape stress, the ideal solution to feel better is the most often overlooked?

Perhaps Milton Berle said it best when he shared that, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

When was the last time you leaned into laughter as your guaranteed solution to exit emotional distress and enter a rejuvenated, happy state of being?

Incorporating laughter into our daily life can have numerous benefits for those of us over 60. We have covered many of these benefits in the previous three articles and videos in this series on “The Healing Power of Laughter.”

In the fourth of our five-part series for Sixty and Me readers, we will explore the connection between laughter and your mental health.

The Importance of Mental Health Awareness

Being 60 and over can be a truly magical experience. It can also present unique challenges and new opportunities for maintaining your well-being.

A study published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that anxiety is common among adults over 60, with prevalence rates ranging from 3% to 14%.

The National Council on Aging reports that approximately 20% of those aged 55 and older experience some type of mental health concern, including mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

For these reasons and more, mental health awareness is crucial for anyone over 60.

Being aware of your mental health is first recognizing and understanding the importance of maintaining your mental well-being. From there you will want to actively take steps to prioritize and proactively care for your mental health.

Where does laughter help in all of this?

Healing Medicine of Laughter

The origins of mental health issues take many forms, such as physical or emotional abuse, the loss of a loved one, or other life-altering events.

While it may seem counterintuitive to use laughter to address such serious issues, laughter has been proven to be a powerful and effective way to cope with the lingering effects of mental health issues resulting from stress, anxiety, and unhealed trauma.

One of the primary benefits of laughter is how it reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones are released in response to stressful situations and can have negative effects on the body and mind over time. By laughing more, you release endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that counteract the negative effects of stress hormones.

Not only can I personally attest to this, but numerous studies into the healing medicine of laughter underscore these benefits and more.

Here are two such examples:

  1. A study published in Nursing Open found that laughter therapy significantly reduced depressive symptoms and improved life satisfaction among adults sixty and over.
  2. Research conducted at Loma Linda University in California demonstrated that laughter can enhance cognitive function and improve memory performance.

Strengthen Your Mental Health

Here are five key areas where laughter can help you strengthen your overall mental health after 60:

Stress Reduction

Laughing helps reduce stress hormones like cortisol, leading to a sense of relaxation and calmness.

Mood Enhancement

Laughing triggers the release of endorphins, which are the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are medically proven to improve mood and uplift spirits.

Cognitive Function

Laughter stimulates your brain activity, enhancing cognitive function, improving memory, and promoting mental agility.

Social Interactions

Laughing with others will immediately improve your overall mental health. Joining a laughter club or attending comedy shows with friends can foster social connections, increase social support, and create a sense of belonging that goes a long way to improving your well-being.

Shift Perspective

Looking at challenging situations through the lens of humor is about finding the silver lining in things that may not initially feel good. This can help reframe negative thoughts and promote a positive outlook on life.

Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Don’t let another day go by without opening yourself up to more laughter in your life.

Remember that laughter should be a supplement to an overall mental health care plan. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns, it’s important to seek professional help from a healthcare provider or mental health specialist.

I invite you to join me in the video where I will share additional insights on mental health awareness for women over 60. I will also guide you through five empowering action items to integrate what you are learning.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you use laughter as mental health therapy? What benefits have you noticed since? What strategies do you use to bring more laughter into your life?

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Shelly Little

There is always something to laugh about even in rough times. One time in Portugal and started laughing about something then 3 customers from where I worked came around the corner and said we knew that was you and I am from Cañada.

The Author

Joanie Marx is a three-time bestselling author and the creator of the new, groundbreaking Refocus & Renew Your Life® online course series on Udemy. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Psychology, and a leading authority on refocusing and renewing your life.

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