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Stress Relief Made Fun: The Science Behind Hugs and Laughter

In one of my previous posts about stress reduction, I briefly mentioned the benefits of hugging and laughter. These are such fun, easy, and powerful techniques that anyone can do just about anywhere. I thought it was time to dive a little deeper into why they work and how we can actively start using them to reduce the negative effects of chronic stress.

The Science of Hugs

Let's start by talking about hugs. Have you ever noticed how a good hug can make you feel better? It calms you and changes your entire outlook on the world and whatever has been upsetting or stressing you out. Turns out there's some science behind hugs and a reason we start to feel better.

Hugs have measurable effects on your heart and brain activity, particularly when they last for about twenty seconds. As an added bonus, your body releases oxytocin, the "feel-good" hormone. It's no wonder your whole outlook starts to change after a good hug.

Start to hug your loved ones or your favorite pet more often, and when you do, try to hold the hug for at least twenty seconds. Don’t be creepy about it, but if you’re comfortable—and you should be if you’re sharing a long hug—tell the other person about the benefits of these longer hugs. Before long, it will become second nature, and you'll both continue to reap the rewards.

The Power of Laughter

When hugging isn't an option, or if you don't enjoy them, give laughing a try. Laughter relieves tension and reduces stress. As an added benefit, you're drawing more air into your lungs, resulting in more oxygen being delivered to your heart, brain, and other important organs. Laughing often can even improve your immune system.

Put on a funny movie, watch a TV sitcom, read some funny cartoons, call a friend who makes you laugh, or just start laughing and fake it until you start to feel it. Laughter, it turns out, really is great medicine for both the body and mind.

Laughter Yoga: A Fun Twist

Here's a fun fact for you: There's an entire sub-niche of yoga practitioners who do laughter yoga as a stress-busting technique. Can you see yourself taking a class where you go through various yoga exercises while also making a conscious effort to laugh out loud? It's a unique way to combine the physical benefits of yoga with the emotional lift that comes from laughter.

Final Thoughts on Fun Stress Relief

Incorporating hugs and laughter into your daily routine is a simple yet powerful way to reduce stress. These activities are easy to do, fun, and have immediate benefits. So, embrace the fun and start hugging and laughing your way to a less stressed life. Your mind and body will thank you!

Stress Relief Made Fun the Science Behind Hugs and Laughter