By Miranda Massie on February 2, 2017
- Who’s there?
A broken pencil.
- A broken pencil who?
Never mind. It’s pointless.
Cue the groans. Perhaps a knock-knock joke is not the best way to illustrate the helpful and healing power of humour.
At some point, you have probably heard that laughter is the best medicine. While it may not be among the most cutting-edge treatments on the market, it might actually be one of the oldest and most cost-effective health boosters available.
Since February is host to Valentine’s Day, it seems like a fitting time to think about ways we might soften our hearts (emotionally) while strengthening our heart health (physically).
10 Ways Humour Can Benefit Your Heart
- Laughter activates and increases blood flow to the part of the brain involved in pleasurable feelings, which can lead to elevated mood and increased happiness.
- Both sides of the brain are stimulated during laughter, which can create more focus and clarity, as well as creativity.
- Positive emotions and laughter enhance social connections and generate intimacy through positive interactions.
- Laughter reduces at least four of the known hormones associated with stress in the body, including cortisol and dopamine.
- Laughter eases muscle tension and psychological stress, which help us to relax.
- Chemicals released in the brain during laughter bind to nervous system receptors to naturally reduce feelings of pain.
- Laughter causes blood vessels in the body to expand, increasing blood flow, leading to improved cardiovascular health.
- Laughter produces deep diaphragm breathing, which serves as a pump for the lymph nodes. Increased lymphatic function leads to antibody production and overall better immunity.
- Deep belly laughing helps exercise the lungs. The more air that you take in, the more oxygen that flows to your brain and body.
- Repeated laughter helps tone and condition muscles in the face, core and back.
This month, I invite you to look out for ways to add more laughter into your life. Watch a funny movie or attend a comedy show. Spend time with friends and family who make you laugh. Strive to find humour during stressful or trying times. Make sure you are always laughing with someone, not at the expense of others.
Though everyone’s sense of humour will differ, here are a few clips and sound effects to get you started. Remember, laughter is contagious – do your part to spread heart health around!
Baby laughing soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaQiSOAQOhg
Laughter yoga: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGNOF8DVIPQ
All my best,
Posted in Editorial, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Physical Health | Tagged Benefits, blood pressure, editorial, emotions, Exercise, fun, funny, humour, jokes, Laughter, mood, oxygen, pain, relationships, stress management, stress relief, UBC | 1 Response
By Melissa Lafrance on February 2, 2017
How can managing your emotions be good for your heart? The brain and the heart are closely connected. When your emotions adversely affect your mental wellbeing, your heart is impacted as well.
Stress & Heart Health
There’s a reason why we have a stress response – it’s necessary for survival. When stress or distress become overbearing and chronic, it has significant effects on your health, specifically your heart.
In a stressful situation, your body responds with a chain of reactions. Cortisol and epinephrine are released, which temporarily increase breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure. This prepares you to deal with the situation and is also known as the “fight or flight” response. Most of us are able to return to normal functioning following a stressful situation. However, if such situations happens often, stress causes your body to remain in a heightened state for days or weeks at a time. Stress can also affect cardiovascular health by influencing behaviours such as unhealthy eating, sedentary behaviours, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, thereby affecting cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Chronic hypertension, or high blood pressure, can damage the artery walls. Managing stress and improving emotional wellbeing can improve overall heart health. Learn more about preventing high blood pressure.
You should consult your physician if you are concerned about your stress levels or your risks for cardiovascular disease. Learn more about preventing and managing risk factors.
Get involved & take care of your heart:
- Learn more about heart anatomy & function and cardiovascular disease risk factors
- Inform yourself on heart health by visiting our Virtual Health Fair & Online Assessment
- Visit heartandstroke.ca to learn more about Heart Health & Heart Month
Emotional Wellbeing & Stress Management:
- Work or talk it out with UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program provider, Shepell
- Shepell’s Stress Coach Connects – an online stress management program
- Improve your stress management with the 30-Day Online Mindfulness Challenge
- Learn mindfulness for the workplace and how to establish your own meditation practice with the Mindfulness@Work Program
- Check out other stress management resources for staff and faculty
Posted in Healthy Path, Mental Health, Physical Health | Tagged blood pressure, care, emotional health, emotions, healthy hear, Heart health, management, prevention, risk, Stress, wellbeing | Leave a response