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Health & Wellness

Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter

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There’s nothing like a big belly laugh to make you feel good. While laughter may or may not be the best medicine, it is thought to have health benefits.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter may enhance your intake of oxygen-rich air, which can help stimulate your organs and increase endorphins. It also may help stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, which may help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

This month, make it a priority to laugh more. Need a little help getting your giggle on? Start with these ideas.

Measure your mirth. We all have a different sense of humor. Start a laughter journal to make note of what makes you merry. Maybe it was a stand-up comedian on TV, a sit-com, the antics of your dog or cat, or looking at baby animal follies on social media. Perhaps it's a comic strip you love or one of your especially funny friends. Make a list of the things that make you laugh, and then state your intention to dedicate more time, accordingly.

Try laughter yoga. No joke, there’s a type of yoga that involves laughter exercises. It can be a great abdominal workout, plus you’ll leave the mat smiling. Do a quick online search and look for a class in your community, or seek out a laughter yoga video online and give it a try.

Enroll in something new. Maybe it’s a water aerobics class, or Spanish lessons, or a group drawing class with friends. Choose something that will take you out of your comfort zone and expose you to new people and ideas. You’re bound to make mistakes along the way — that’s all part of the learning process. Give yourself permission to laugh at yourself, and you’ll come out ahead.

Spend time around kids. They’re funny, they’re cute and they’re pure laughter fuel, whether they’re your grandkids or someone else’s. Offer to babysit for friends or family members, or volunteer at a church, community center or school.

Turn off the news and turn on some comedy. Get away from current events and opt for some funnies. Check out a new series, turn on a funny movie, follow funny people on social media or watch cartoons with the kids. A little escapism can’t hurt, if it ends with laughter. 

Stand up for stand-up. Ever consider becoming a comedian? Check around town for improv lessons. It can be a great way to keep your mind sharp and meet new people, even if you don’t go pro. Get the stage jitters? If you don’t care to grab the microphone yourself, you can at least be in the presence of shenanigans. View upcoming listings for open mic nights or comics coming to town, and book a ticket to a show. You’ll be guffawing in no time.  

Make a funny plan. Sometimes, anticipation can be just as powerful as the event you’re anticipating. Commit to laughing by scheduling something that you know will crack you up (see No. 1 about knowing what makes you laugh). Put it on your calendar and make a date of it. You just have to open yourself up to find them, and the laughter will follow.

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