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Written by Liza Nagarkoti , BSc Nursing, MA(Nutrition), Project Officer (Health) LWF Nepal

A robust sense of humor isn’t merely a pleasant diversion during challenging times; it’s a valuable asset in our pursuit of overall well-being. When we find ourselves amused by a friend’s witty remark or a comedian’s act, the positive impacts of humor resonate through our bodies, minds, and social connections. It’s more than just entertainment; it contributes to enhancing our physical, mental, and emotional health.

According to Dattilo, an instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, humor’s psychological benefits are immediate, lifting mood and reducing stress and anxiety, while also affecting us physically by reducing cortisol levels and increasing dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters (Harvard Gazette, 2023).

Research has shown that laughter’s health benefits are extensive, including pain relief, increased happiness, and enhanced immunity. Positive psychology recognizes laughter and a sense of humor as one of the 24 main signature strengths (Verywell Mind).

The physical benefits of laughter are diverse:

  • Laughter boosts heart and respiratory rates and oxygen consumption temporarily, leading to subsequent relaxation. While it’s not equivalent to aerobic exercise, it still offers physical benefits. Laughing for 10-15 minutes daily can burn an additional 10-40 calories.
  • It positively impacts heart function by increasing stroke volume, cardiac output, and dilating blood vessels.
  • Intense laughter enhances muscle tone.
  • Watching funny videos stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) without raising blood pressure.
  • Laughter reduces cortisol levels, the stress hormone.
  • It activates the brain’s mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system.
  • Laughing boosts levels of serum immunoglobulins A and E and tends to increase natural killer cell activity.
  • It raises levels of beta-endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals, and increases human growth hormone (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).

Relationship between Laughter and Mental Health

The relationship between laughter and mental health is profound. It interrupts distressing emotions, promoting relaxation, stress reduction, increased energy, focus, and productivity. Additionally, laughter fosters a more positive perspective on situations, creating psychological distance and diffusing conflict. It also strengthens social bonds, which can profoundly impact mental and emotional well-being (HelpGuide).

In conclusion, laughter emerges as a potent medicine for holistic health, offering a multitude of benefits across physical, psychological, and social dimensions


  1. Harvard Gazette. (2023, January). A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2023/01/a-laugh-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/
  2. Verywell Mind. (n.d.). The Stress Management and Health Benefits of Laughter. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stress-management-and-health-benefits-of-laughter-3145084
  3. S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Healing Benefits: Humor & Laughter. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/healing-benefits-humor-laughter.asp
  4. (n.d.). Laughter is the Best Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm