If stress is contagious, ‘good old common sense’ tells us that there is no need to get into biological details of empathic sharing to understand (and feel) that Serenity and Joy can also be contagious and trigger positive effects for our health and well-being ;-)
However, since neurobiology is becoming one of our best allies, let us leverage some knowledge of its characteristics and functioning to better understand the refreshing influence of a good laugh!
For things to happen in our head, they have also to happen in our body and through our body
Indeed, Serenity, Joy, good mood, and laughter allow to:
- Put heart rate into a coherent state and lower blood pressure;
- Offset the immunosuppressant effects of stress and increase the number and action of lymphocytes, the guardians of our health;
- Stimulate the immune system and increase the levels of immunoglobulin-A (present in saliva and protecting us from respiratory tract infections) which decrease is linked to stress;
- Increase blood flow in the brain areas which secrete endorphins and analgesic substances produced naturally in the body, reducing as such the emotional and perceptual dimensions of pain;
- Induce muscle relaxation by reducing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system responsible for muscle contractions.
All of this has a significant impact first on our feelings, then on our thoughts, and finally on our behaviors which, in turn, considerably influence individual and collective performance.
You might have been surprised as we talked about coping with “active stress”? Well, stay tuned for the next post to understand why ;-) In the meantime, what about putting on that beautiful smile of yours?