Gelotherapy is laughter therapy, and laughter therapy is simply laughter. Gelotherapy is from the greek word gelos meaning laughter. People are discovering that laughing makes you feel better and clubs are springing up all across the country.
A hearty belly laugh will:
Increase your pain tolerance
Give you a sense of well-being
Lower your blood pressure
Types of Laughter
Laughter is common and is called by many different names. Chuckling, giggling, guffawing, tittering, cackling, chortling, cachinnating, and many more words are all types and degrees of laughter.
Gelotology is the study of laughter and its effects on the human body.
Scientific evidence has not shown that giggling cures or prevents disease. However, studies have shown that humor and cachinnating increases your circulation, stimulates your immune system, and encourages the release of endorphins.
Chuckling is a unconscious vocalization that has its roots deep in our primitive brain. It begins when we are infants somewhere between 15 weeks and four months of age. Most babies have the ability to chortle even before they can speak, and babies who are born deaf and blind still have the ability to laugh.
It is part of the human vocabulary across all types of dialects and languages. Everybody speaks the language of laughter. It is often an involuntary physical reaction consisting of rhythmic, and often audible, contractions of the diaphragm and other parts of the respiratory system.
Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center demonstrated that a hearty chuckle causes a dilation of the inner lining of blood vessels. This leads to increased blood flow and lower your blood pressure.
It is speculated that this occurs because laughter causes your brain to release nitric oxide, a chemical that affects your blood vessels. Nitric oxide has also been shown to lower inflammation and reduce the clumping together a platelets which is the cause of blood clots.
Other physical benefits of laughter therapy:
Lower levels of the stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol
Release of endorphins which reduce your sensation of physical pain
Increases the number of antibody producing cells and makes your T-cells more effective
These same mechanisms contribute to your psychological sense of well being because they lower stress levels and make you feel better.
Laughter therapy is a physical response to a internal or external stimuli. It is part of many social interactions and often can be contagious. One person laughing, will often cause others to start laughing, which will cause the first person to laugh even more.
Laughter can happen in many different situations but it is generally considered a physical expression of good or positive mental states such as joy, happiness, or relief.Laughter can also occur in less positive conditions. Nervous laughter can happen spontaneously with confusion or embarrassment. A courtesy laugh may show social acceptance.
Laughter at inappropriate times is considered rude and when it is not controlled can cause problems socially. What you think is funny is determined by your situation at the time, your age, sex, education, language and culture.
What makes you laugh? Laughter therapy is mental or physical stimulation that may cause laughter that can vary from as little as a grin or a chuckle to hilarious uncontrollable uproar that causes tears and shortness of breath.
Laughter therapy is whatever makes you laugh. The things that make you laugh are very individual and will depend on your mood, your expectations, and your physical experiences. Some people will laugh heartily at nearly anything, while other people will barely smile in situations that others find hilarious.
Voluntary or Involuntary
Tickling and other physical stimulation can cause involuntary laughter. This can be pleasant in the beginning, but may become unpleasant when carried to extremes. Humorous contradictions, absurdities, or paradoxical situations that we see in our own lives or in written stories can make us laugh. Satirical, ironic or sarcastic parody is used in literature to entertain us and make us cackle.
Laughing is generally thought to be a positive and healthy activity. However, just like anything else, when carried to the extreme there can be problems. It has been reported that a 50 year old woman with a pre existing heart condition actually died from a fit of intense laughter.
May Aggravate Existing Health Problems
Powerful giggling may be called side-splitting because it has been known to cause abdominal hernias. Gasping for breath during extreme hilarity has caused people to inhale foreign objects. Forceful cachinnating may also trigger asthma attacks, cause headaches, or lead to incontinence.
It sounds like the risks of laughter are nothing to laugh about.
The benefits of laughter therapy are both physical and mental. It can increase your sense of well being and lower your blood pressure. It can increase your pain tolerance and it is an excellent distraction from your pain.
It appears there are risks if you have other health problems that are not well controlled, but there are no side effects. Laughing or chuckling or guffawing or giggling or whatever you want to call it is good for you and it makes you feel better.
You have to do it, Nobody can do it for You
There are many ways to enjoy humor. You can find it all around you if you look for it. You can search for a laugh club in your area, or start one with a group of friends. Your local library and the Internet are both full of books and stories that will have you rolling on the floor with laughter.
But none of this will happen without some effort on your part. You must decide that you want to laugh. You must take steps to make yourself laugh and you may have to just pretend to laugh in the beginning, but soon it will become spontaneous and you will begin enjoying it so start laughing today.