When was the last time have you paid special attention to what puts a smile on your face? Who are the people who bring joy to your life? What makes you bubble over with laughter? As I write these few lines, I hear my inquisitive husband ask, “What is it, why are you smiling?” My smile made him wonder what I was so happy about.
Intuitively we all can testify that laughter is one of the best tools we have for dealing with stress. It is also contagious enough so that you usually smile back if someone is smiling. Or, if you see someone smiling or laughing, you want to know why. Science reveals that laughter is a robust drug with the contagious power of a virus that conveys a host of benefits for the mind and body.
So now that you are aware that you are the “host,” let’s talk about how laughter can invade the body and how it can cause your body to release “feel-good chemicals” known as endorphins. Our bodies are designed in such a special and complex way that the things we see, smell, touch, taste, and hear can make us feel light as a feather or heavy as a brick.
Endorphins are responsible for that feeling after a good run, after eating a delicious dessert, after having a good laugh with a friend, or when going on a vacation. They are the chemicals in your brain that help you cope with pain, stress, anxiety and help you feel good overall. These can also be described as neurotransmitters or hormones that are released in response to a specific event. Sometimes they are released to protect you from the bad. For example, if you were out running and you fell and accidently injured your knee, a rush of endorphins will assist you to limp to safety, despite your pain.
The joy from endorphins is involved in your response to a touchdown of your favorite football team, from driving a new car, hearing your baby cry at birth, or in the moment of getting a pedicure. Sexual pleasures are also characterized by a surge of endorphins.
Below is a list of some of the many benefits of experiencing the joys endorphins.
- Reduced Depression
- Improved self- esteem
- Reduced Anxiety
- Reduced pain
- A boosted immunity
- Regulated appetite
Even though the release of endorphin varies among individuals (and often involve the release of other feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin), it’s our body’s way of protecting us from the negative effects of pain and distress and propels us forward towards feelings of pleasure, joy, and release. Without your endorphins, the world would seem very bland, boring, and joyless.
Knowing you can control the flow of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in your body means you can get out of that funk and move towards a better day. The choice is yours. Experience the joys of endorphins today (with all its health benefits) by doing things to make yourself smile – it’s good for you and your body will love it!