It’s been said many times, that laughter is the best medicine. But this old proverb is more likely referring to our everyday lives and not just when we have fallen ill. It implies that in general laughter is a healthy thing for both mind and body. If that’s true, then why are children the only ones laughing?
Young children at the toddler/preschool stage laugh somewhere between 100 to 400 times each day. While adults only laugh 10 to 25 times a day. This seems to imply that we get too serious as we age, but it doesn’t have to be this way. As adults, we have to be responsible for things and people. We have to feed and put clothes on our children. We have to pay our bills. We don’t have time to be amused much. As adults, we get pressured by society into what feels normal. Paying your bills is normal. Stressing out about your job is normal. Normal people don’t have the time to laugh. The only caveat is when we take the time to do so, such as attending a comedy show and setting aside time to go see a movie.
Our lives would certainly be healthier if we did laugh more. A June 2017 study funded by the Academy of Finland and the European Research Council and featured in Science Daily, reveals how social laughter releases endorphins in the brain and may promote closer social ties. (1) And endorphins are known to help reduce stress, improve sleep patterns, boost self-esteem, and help to diminish anxiety and depression. (2) It’s only a matter of how serious we take this.
At your next annual check-up, your doctor is likely to remind you to eat right, exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of water. He or she might even tell you to take some “me” time and do what you like to reduce stress. But most doctors don’t routinely tell you to laugh. Therefore, it’s on all of us to remind ourselves to make time for humor. Laugh time.
So, what can adults do to laugh and play like children? Stop worrying and learn to laugh. Most importantly, learn to laugh at yourself. Here are 10 ideas to add more humor into your daily routine:
1) Make silly faces at yourself in the mirror – do this when you shave or brush your teeth.
2) Get potato sacks and take the kids to the park for a fun, sack race.
3) Shop at a crafts store. Find odd materials to start a fun, family project.
4) Sing nursery rhymes with your kids, but change the words and make up your own.
5) Make silly sounding snacks in the kitchen, try weird flavor combinations.
6) Make a funny costume for your pet, take pictures after you put it on them.
7) Record a silly voice on your family voicemail, play it back just for laughs.
8) Have a family Play Doh Night – build something funny and weird together.
9) Take the family to a pumpkin farm, or animal petting farm clear out in the country.
(You may not get laughs, but you will get all day smiles.)
10) Have a REAL pillow fight, with big, soft pillows.
So, at your next family meal ask your kids what are their favorite ways to laugh. The answers may surprise you depending on their age. But the open discussion can lead to a plan to try any of the 10 ideas above, or come up with your own family laugh night plan. Either way, laughing is healthy. And as busy adults with certainly some level of stress in our daily routine, we need to laugh more often.
“Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away.” – Benjamin Franklin
University of Turku. (2017, June 1). Social laughter releases endorphins in the brain. ScienceDaily.
Depression Guide > Exercise and Depression (2017, June) WebMD.com
Larry Hall is a Marketing Manager at Superior Recreational Products, a commercial playground equipment company. He has been a community coach for soccer and tennis for over 15 years. Grounds For Play, a division of Superior, offers learning play structures and outdoor classrooms to encourage the physical and cognitive development of children.