The Many Benefits Of Laughter For A Healthier, Happier Life

laughter is the Best Medicine wilcoWellness

Given that humans are innately social creatures, community ties and intimate connections are essential to both present and long-term happiness

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals how social laughter, or “contagious laughter,” triggers the release of endogenous opioids in the brain. As we laugh together, this release both makes us happier and bonds us together. In the words of the philosopher and psychologist, William James,

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.”

But the benefits of laughter stretch beyond making us live longer, feel happy, and enjoy stronger connections to our social support networks. How else can laughter improve one’s health and wellbeing?

 

The Physical Benefits of Laughter

  • Boosts immunity: Laughter has the power to strengthen the body’s endocrine system and increase infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving resistance to disease.
  • Lowers stress hormones: Prolonged stress can cause everything from ulcers to tinnitus and brain fog. Laughter decreases cortisol levels by increasing oxygen intake and stimulating the circulation of feel-good chemicals throughout the body.
  • Decreases pain: Laughter both helps people forget about pain and improves pain tolerance by spurring the body to produce endorphins, otherwise known as “happy hormones.”
  • Relaxes muscles: Aside from being a terrific ab workout, laughter also strengthens another muscle: the heart. In general, the stronger the heart, the stronger the circulation of blood and oxygen, and the less tense muscles feel.
  • Prevents heart disease: Approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease every year in the United States, according to the CDC. Laughter is considered an excellent cardiovascular workout that reduces inflammation and boosts “good” HDL cholesterol.

The Mental Health Benefits of Laughter

  • Eases stress and anxiety: Laughter mimics taking a deep breath in that it pumps oxygen through the body and helps to calm us down.
  • Improves mood: Laughter can turn negative experiences into positive ones. In addition to improving your outlook and perspective on the world around you, a positive attitude uplifts others.
  • Strengthens resilience: Laughter is a powerful tool for resolving conflict and seeing the bright side of almost any situation. It’s not just a quick pick-me-up. It also creates strong memories that can remind you of your strength further down the road.
  • Reduces stress: By unleashing feel-good hormones, our stress hormone levels decrease, and our bodies are detoxed from stress hormones, cortisol, and epinephrine.

The Social Benefits of Laughter

  • Strengthens relationships: Humor is a powerful tool to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurt. The laughter-fueled release of serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins bonds individuals together for the short and long-term.
  • Attracts others: A person who laughs a lot tends to have an attractive and healthy glow. And by sharing a laugh with someone, we also communicate that we share the same worldview, at least in part.
  • Enhances teamwork: There’s a reason workplace culture and team-building is especially conducive to a company’s success. More laughter means stronger bonds and less stress, making work more enjoyable and less exhausting for all.
  • Helps defuse conflict: When tensions arise in meetings or fatigue, and stress gets the best of colleagues, it’s helpful for everyone to take a break and be reminded that we work to live– not the other way around!

 

Where to Laugh in Williamson County, Texas:

Take a moment and have a giggle at a few great places to catch a laugh with your friends, family, or co-workers:

#1 – CSZ Austin – Home of ComedySportz 

 

#2 – Drive-in Comedy Shows at Blue Starlite Drive-in

 

#3 – The Georgetown Palace Theatre

 

They say that laughter is the best medicine, and over the years, numerous scientific studies have proven that happier people tend to live longer. Along with a healthy diet and exercise, living a happier and less stressful life is one of the keys to longevity. There is no single recipe for happiness, as different people find happiness in different things. However, one thing is certain; laughter is a simple pleasure that can make anyone, whether young or old, feel better.

 

Make It A Family Day

Celebrate-Time-With-Your-Family

Quality Time is at the Top of our List this Month

American Family Day is celebrated on the first Sunday of August. In this blog, we share ideas to help build connections, maintain relationships and have a bit of fun!

Get-togethers are an excellent way to catch up and strengthen family relationships while stockpiling memories for years to come. The connection between loved ones helps maintain relationships. Every member needs special nurturing and attention to grow into their best self.

One of the best gifts we can give to our family and friends is time together

Creating family activities and locating places that are open near you can sometimes be difficult, so we did the research for you. Take a look at this summer-sweet list of our favorites:

  • Pop-up Park Potluck. Tell Grandma Cathy to get her twice-baked mashed potatoes ready for a potluck at a favorite local County Park. Connect over old family recipes and fun around the park.
  • Matching T-Shirts for Family Olympics. Do you remember that episode on Full House where Danny Tanner makes matching T-shirts for the whole gang? Uncle Jesse was not pleased. However, it might be time to “dad-up” and divide teams up (by families per different colored shirt) and host your annual family Olympics at a local park.
  • Get-along Partner. Nothing says “get-along” like going horseback riding! Stables in the area will help you rent a horse and head out for an unforgettable experience. Yee-Haw! Beat the heat and start early!
  • Take a hike! Ah! Fresh air and new beginnings will strengthen family bonds as you hike at one of the many Wilco Trails. Attempt to go in the early morning or late in the evening to beat the heat. Also, don’t forget to hydrate! Peek at a previous blog: Looking for a Walking Path in Williamson County, TX
  • Fashion Forward. Georgetown, TX, is full of fun and quirky shops. Pack the family up, set a limit, and giggle over all the treasures to be found. There’s something for everyone!
  • Shopping Center. Keeping up with the Kardashians? Shop ’til you drop in Downtown Georgetown. Highly recommend popping into To Have and to Hold for some Southern-glam finds! Also, Red Bird Mercantile for sustainable treasures.
  • Sunday Brunch for the crew. Make reservations to try Texas Steak Eggs Benedict or the Chef’s Pancake of the Day at one of our favorites in Georgetown or Cedar Park. Blue Corn Harvest offers farm-to-table meals, which means most of their foods found local for you to enjoy.
  • Have a movie night. Consider showing one of your favorite movies when you were a kid to your very own like Little Rascals. Family fun movie nights can be educational too. Pop on Our Planet to learn about Earth’s natural beauty and examine how climate change impacts all living creatures. 
  • Keep it retro. See a retro-flick at Blue Starlite Drive-in in Round Rock from the safety and comfort of your own car!
  • Putt-Putt Golf. What are fun family activities in the area you ask? Ask no further! Monster Mini-Golf offers fun for little (and big) monsters like Laser Mazes, Arcades, Virtual Reality, and Mini Golf.

A Puzzle For Your Thoughts

National-Puzzle-Day

National Puzzle Day

As National Puzzle Day gleams on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to talk about the importance of exercising your brain, while lighting up bo­th hemispheres in interactive, engaging, and fun ways! Before the revolution of phone apps, simulations, and games, most people would engage with puzzles in the form of crosswords, word searches, Sudokus, table puzzles (jigsaw), brain teasers, along with many others. I can remember the pure joy of getting to complete one of these after a school assignment as a way to fill our free time. The challenge was addicting and exciting, and getting clues from friends always helped cross the finish line.

Benefits : Improved Cognitive Function

Studies have found that working puzzles improves our cognitive function, memory, and problem-solving skills. Working table puzzles are often done with others, increasing socialization skills and community, while stimulating different areas of your brain. With the takeover of cell phones, these kinds of brainteasers are done less frequently, even becoming somewhat of a mystery to kids who once used to put together simple geometric shapes into their respected places and other simulated puzzle experiences as they grew up.

With the obvious benefit of increasing vocabulary skills and usage, crossword puzzles, work on existing knowledge and working with letter clues in a series of guess and check. Sudoku’s work on the logical side of the brain utilizing number sequence, patience, and determination to solve the entire grid, even increasing attention span.

Collaborative Games Have Produced Higher Levels of Happiness

Collaborative games and exercises, such as puzzles, have produced higher levels of happiness, and even relaxation, when having some good ole fashioned fun! A challenging puzzle, which requires teamwork, and dependency on those helping you, undoubtedly brings concentration and joy when finally discovering where one of the pieces needs to go.  

The sense of accomplishment from finishing a complex puzzle, crossword, or Sudoku is immense and usually follows with wanting to complete one that’s more complex or the next level up, creating a series of wanting to step up and challenge your brain farther. This builds confidence in your abilities and affirms to your brain that you are more than capable to complete a task that you may have at one point believe that you weren’t intelligent enough to complete. Major brain score!

What most people are moving towards these days to exercise their brain and gain the numerous effects of solving complex puzzles, are downloading different apps on their phone that they can do when they have free time, replacing mindless scrolling.

Mindless scrolling on your phone through different social media platforms can be damaging to your brain, as there is not a lot of new brain activity going on, rather it’s just used as being a time filler. Keeping your brain active is as important as physical exercise, and these apps ensure you won’t become stagnant while glazing over your phone. I have comprised a list of apps you can download and give a try in the spirit of National Puzzle Day. One of these might even become part of your new routine!

Stay mentally active using the following apps and branch out to find others that fit your interests and needs!

 

 

  1. Lumosity

Lumosity is considered the originator of the brain training apps that hit the app stores by storm. This app consists of colorful and fun mini games that train on flexibility, attention, memory, speed, and problem solving. When you sign up, you complete a “fit test”, which tests the above five function and compares you to others users in the same age group. This provides insight to the creators of the app which functions you need to spend the most time on in order to increase your results. 

This app boosts math and speaking skills, with attention also put on memory and processing speed. This app is more so designed for adults with the focus more on texts, versus colorful illustrations. Boost your productivity, earning power, and self-confidence with this app that was voted the best phone app in 2014. If you are feeling competitive you can compare your performance in order to encourage you to keep pushing forward.

Similar to Lumosity, Peak can be used by both adults and children, as they have attractive interfaces. Recommended to train for three days a week, one of the great perks of Peak is that you can select the days that you want to train and they will send you reminders when it’s time. You can track your progress throughout time with colorful graphs that act as powerful demonstrations and insight into your progress.

What sets Fit Brains apart from the rest is that it targets emotional intelligence through mini games that target social skills, social awareness, self-control, and self-awareness. This app also has a school edition that aims to boost the cognitive functions of schoolchildren as well.

This app is designed for consumers, scientists, and clinicians. This one may perhaps be the most advanced brain app reviewed, increasing short-term memory, planning, hand-eye coordination, visual acuity, and auditory perception. A lot of students preparing to take the medical and dental school entrance exam tests will use this app to challenge their visual acuity and perception skills.

All of these apps include free versions, as well as subscriptions that allow you to enjoy more features.  

You can also download interactive versions of our favorite original brain teasers including word searches, cross word puzzles, Sudokus, and many others that will challenge you!

If you look forward to observing National Puzzle Day on January 29th, grab a friend and put together a large jigsaw puzzle together. Or, you can grab a cup of coffee and work on a word search, crossword, or Sudoku. You can even be vintage and find a local paper to complete your crossword puzzle from! You can even download one of these apps in order to see how it will benefit you! Make sure you #nationalpuzzleday so others can enjoy how you are celebrating this special day!