How Laughter Can Help Change Behaviors
Need another reason to laugh? Laughter can help to increase Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which can be instrumental when trying to change habits and behaviors.
So what is BDNF? It is a protein that not only assists with neuron survival, but it helps with growth and differentiation or neurons as well as help to form new neural pathways. As marci evens says, its miracle grow for the brain!
The new neural pathways are what is crucial in changing habits and behaviors. You know how you can zone out and go into autopilot when commuting to work and yet somehow know exactly where to go? Or you find it incredibly difficult to stop a behavior and feel like it's almost out of your control? It's because the more we engage in a behavior or habit, our neurons develop more dendrites and the communication and messaging in the brain becomes stronger and faster. Cue BDNF, which assists us in making new neural pathways to alter habits and behaviors.
If you are in recovery and trying to stop certain behaviors or if you are trying to alter habits and behaviors in your life that no longer serve you, try laughing.
I also want to note that those with depression often have lower levels of BDNF and cortisol, the hormone we release under stress, can also lower levels. So while I know it can be hard to even think about laughing when we're in a dark place, but the one sure fire way (usually) to get at least a chuckle in, is to watch cute and funny animals!! Stop scrolling on curated feeds of influencers (which are also probably feeding into your depression and anxiety) and start checking out some fur babies on the gram.
(again) Animals being silly and cute
Babies being silly and cute
Watch a funny movie or tv show
Go to a comedy show
Reminisce with a friend about a funny memory
Watch someone genuinely laughing (it can be as contagious as a yawn!)