American researchers published a paper in 2008 showing that a hearty laugh can reduce stress hormones.
The researchers studied 16 men for cortisol and catecholamine blood levels while they were fasting. They were split into two groups randomly: one for control and one for the experiment. They took blood from all the participants before the trial, 4 times during, and 3 times after.
They discovered that those in the experimental group had lower levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine catabolite not just while laughing, but, interestingly, while they were anticipating a laugh. And not just any laugh—a good one, or what the researchers labelled as “mirthful”.
Cortisol is a stress hormone; the body releases it as a way to respond to stress. Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) is also a stress hormone, but it’s specifically triggered by feelings of fear. Dopamine catabolite helps the body produce epinephrine.
If you’re feeling stressed, try finding more ways to laugh. And laugh hard.
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