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Have a Laugh!

When is the last time you had a good, belly-aching, kind-of laugh? I’m talking about the kind laugh that brings tears to your eyes. If you can’t remember, then there is a good chance you are past due for a knee-slapping chuckle.

Many of my favorite pastimes with family and friends include times when I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my seat. Laughter is a great way to reconnect with others all while creating lasting memories.

There is now a growing body of evidence that has shown laughter to have several health benefits. According to researcher, JongEun Yim laughter impacts both physiological health and psychological health in the following ways:

“Physiological Outcomes:

  • Exercises and relaxes muscles
  • Improves respiration
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Decreases stress hormones
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Elevates pain threshold and tolerance
  • Enhances mental functioning”

“Psychological Outcomes:

  • Reducing stress, anxiety, and tension
  • Counteracts symptoms of depression
  • Improves mood and self esteem
  • Enhances memory and creative thinking
  • Increases friendliness
  • Improves quality of life”

Laughter could be the missing puzzle piece to health coping. Healthy Coping is one of the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors.2 At the center of health coping is managing stress. Exercising, pursuing hobbies, and seeking support are often suggested as positive options for managing stress.2 Laughter therapy may now be another viable option for health coping.

What is Laughter Therapy?

According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, “Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort.”3

Laughter therapy may take place in a group setting, such as a laughter club, or it may be something that you practice on your own.

The following is a simple laughter exercise from Live A Little Longer. This exercise is called, “I Don’t Know Why I am Laughing Trick.”4 This exercise can be done in the privacy of your own home or with another person. Directions are as follows:

“… laugh, real or fake, and shrug your shoulders. Get a big smile on your face as you look at yourself in the mirror or at anybody in the room and convey the message through your eyes and body language, ‘I don’t know why I am laughing’”4

Here are a few more tips to get you laughing:

  • Watch a sitcom
  • Listen to your favorite comedian
  • Go to a comedy show or attend an open mic night
  • Get a book of jokes. Try learning a few jokes to share with others (Laughter is infectious. If you are able to get someone else to laugh, chances are you will also start laughing).
  • Making funny faces in the mirror
  • Dance in front of the mirror
  • “Have a laughter match (with your significant other, close family member, or friend) to see who can laugh the loudest and longest” 5
  • “Laugh for 5 minutes on your way to work”5

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Yim J. Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine. 2016; 239 (3): 243-249.
  2. The American Association of Diabetes Educators. AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors. Assessed September 21, 2017.
  3. Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Laughter Therapy. Assessed September 21, 2017.
  4. Live a Little Longer. 10 Laughter Exercises to Boost Your Health. Assessed September 21, 2017.
  5. Laughter Therapy Enterprises. Laughter Tips for Relationships. Assessed September 21, 2017.