Cut Stress by Anticipating Laughter?
Researchers Say Merely Anticipating a Laugh Can Jump-Start Healthy Changes in the Body
WebMD News Archive
April 7, 2008 -- OK, take a deep breath. Now put your hand on your belly.
Imagine your stomach jiggling, as if you are starting to laugh. You may have
just taken a step toward reducing stress hormone levels.
Researchers say merely anticipating a laugh can jump-start healthy changes
in the body.
The findings come from a small study, made up of 16 healthy men. The men
were divided into two groups. The experimental group was told to anticipate
something funny. The other group was used as a comparison.
Researchers then tested the levels of three stress hormones participants had
in their blood and compared that to the control group, which did not expect a
laugh was on the way.
Researchers found that the group anticipating the laughs had reduced levels
of three stress hormones compared to the other group.
Here's the breakdown from the experimental group.
- Cortisol levels dipped 39%. Cortisol is known as a major stress
- Adrenaline levels dropped 70%. Adrenaline is also known as
- Dopac levels dropped 38%. Dopac is a chemical related to the
"feel-good" chemical known as dopamine.
Persistently elevated stress hormone levels in the blood, as happens under
chronic stressful situations, has been linked to a weakened immune system.
"Our findings lead us to believe that by seeking out positive
experiences that make us laugh we can do a lot with our physiology to stay
well," says researcher Lee Berk in a news release.
The researchers were following up on a similar study they did two years ago
in which they found that anticipating laughter led to an increase in healthful
chemicals such as beta-endorphins.