Laughter as Medicine in Menopause
Aug 06, 2023
Did you know it is thought that the average child laughs about 400 times a day, but the average adult only laughs about 15 times a day? I think George Burns said it best when he said
“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing”.
When did you last laugh? I mean really laugh.
We don’t need research to tell us that laughing has health benefits but you may not realise just how far-reaching these benefits are.
Some of the benefits of laughter therapy include:
- Stress reduction: Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. This can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, leading to a sense of well-being.
- Improved mood: Laughter can elevate mood and increase positive emotions. It can be especially beneficial for individuals dealing with depression or anxiety.
- Boosted immune system: Regular laughter has been linked to an increase in immune system activity, potentially helping the body fight off infections and illnesses.
- Pain relief: Laughing can trigger the release of natural painkillers called endorphins, which may temporarily alleviate pain.
- Cardiovascular benefits: Laughter can improve blood flow and enhance the function of blood vessels, which may contribute to better cardiovascular health.
- Muscle relaxation: Laughing involves the contraction and relaxation of various muscles, leading to muscle relaxation and tension relief.
- Social bonding: Laughter is a universal social behavior that helps strengthen social connections and fosters a sense of belonging and community.
- Improved respiratory function: Deep laughter often involves deep breathing, which can enhance lung capacity and oxygenate the body.
- Enhanced coping skills: Laughter encourages women to find humor in challenging situations, helping them develop healthier coping mechanisms.
- Increased energy: Laughter can boost energy levels and leave individuals feeling more refreshed and invigorated.
- Digestion: Laughter can have positive effects on the digestive system. When you laugh, the muscles in your abdomen and diaphragm contract and relax, similar to a mild workout. This rhythmic movement can aid in stimulating the digestive organs, leading to improved digestion and regular bowel movements. Moreover, laughter has been found to reduce the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which can negatively impact digestion. By reducing stress, laughter may help alleviate digestive issues related to stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Memory Enhancement: Laughter may have indirect benefits on memory and cognitive function. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters that can improve mood and reduce stress. Chronic stress has been linked to cognitive decline and memory problems. By reducing stress levels, laughter may help maintain better cognitive health and possibly enhance memory performance. Additionally, laughter and humor engage multiple regions of the brain, promoting brain connectivity and cognitive flexibility, which can be beneficial for memory and overall cognitive abilities.
- Natural Sleep Aid: Laughter can help you unwind before bedtime making it easier to fall asleep.
Another way to add more laughter into your life is with Laughter Therapy or Laughter Yoga. It's a combination of forced laughter and pranayama yoga breathing techniques which quickly turns into genuine fun and laughter. The International Laughter Yoga website suggests that as little as 10-15 minutes is all that is required to see results. Laughter yoga was created by Dr. Madan Kataria and is now practiced in over 110 countries.
Here are 2 studies using Laughter yoga for midlife women,
The first study looked at Menopausal women’s moods. They used questionnaires before and other 10 laughter therapy sessions. These sessions lasted for 30 minutes each and upon completion, the women were found to have increased optimism, enhanced self-esteem, and reduced depression.
The other study using middle-aged women found laughter therapy activated serotonin release and this helped to improve quality of life scores and reduce depression.
Although it wasn’t mentioned in either of the studies the only downside I can imagine to increased laughter at this stage of life is incontinence. If this is you please reach out to a local pelvic physiotherapist and get assessed to see if this can be improved as you deserve to live a joyful life full of laughter without the added concern of an accident.
An effect of optimism, self-esteem, and depression on Laughter Therapy of Menopausal Women
Effect and path analysis of laughter therapy on Serotonin, depression and quality of life in middle-aged women