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We all face daily challenges in today's complicated and demanding world. ACA’s Counseling Corner Blog offers thoughtful ideas, suggestions, and strategies for helping you to live a happier and healthier life.

Columns can be reprinted in full or in part with attribution to the American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.


Feb 05, 2018

Laughing Your Way To Better Health

There are many factors that can have negative effects on us, but sometimes it's important to focus on those things that can actually improve the quality of our lives. Yes, exercise, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep all can contribute to better physical and mental health, but another even simpler antidote that is often overlooked is making sure to laugh frequently.

Laughing is a natural part of life. As infants, we started smiling within our first few weeks and were laughing out loud within just months. Unfortunately, as we get older and life gets more serious, the ability to laugh can sometimes be diminished. Fortunately, you can learn to laugh again regardless of age.

How does laughing help? In addition to adding joy to your life, it's also a means to ease anxiety and reduce tension. Laughter has been shown to be an important stress reducer. A good, strong laugh can even help relieve physical tension, leaving muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes.

Experts say laughing releases endorphins, the body's "feel good" chemicals. Laughter also decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells, improving your body's resistance to disease.   And one study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor tended to outlive those who didn't laugh as much.

So, how to get more laughter in your life?  Start with a smile. Smiling, whether to family, friends, co-workers or even to strangers on the street, sends out a positive message and makes you feel better, too. It's difficult to be smiling and in a bad mood at the same time. Plus, others will smile back, and that's also nice.

You can increase your laughter quota by searching out things that make you happy. Maybe it's playing with a small child or a family pet. Maybe it's taking the time to find a funny movie, TV show or a video on YouTube. Try reading a humorous book, or sharing a good joke or funny story with others. Read the comics, watch a comedian on TV, or have a night out at your local comedy club.

Yes, life can be serious and we can't always be laughing, but putting a little extra effort into trying to find the funny in your life can leave you feeling happier while providing real benefits to your physical health and mental well-being.

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  1. 4 Lorra Rudman 16 Feb
    I have one particular client who always responds to my jokes with a good, deep laugh. It can be the only laughing of the week, but it gives her a great physical and emotional release and can be enough to change her mood and her countenance.It reminds her mind and body how it feels to rise up above her norm; it "awakens" her. Thanks for this writing!
  2. 3 Carolina 18 Feb
    I agree! Laughter is a natural remedy and with daily stressors it is often overlooked. I work at a supportive housing facility for adults with mental illness and have placed a dry erase board with a weekly joke written on it. Amazing the response we obtained, they now contribute to writing on the board!
  3. 2 Carly 27 Feb
    I’m currently a Masters student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and I am surprised how laughter is never discussed as an effective treatment for our clients and how it seems we are almost steered away from it because of the serious nature of our clients situation. Great to see this article with a different perspective. 
  4. 1 nirupa 05 Mar
    As a counselor, laughter is an important part of my self care routine. After a long day, there's nothing more relaxing and stress-relieving than kicking back with a cup of tea and some Friends or Fresh Prince reruns. Also, at work I have an 'inspirational wall' which basically is a wall where my coworkers and I post up funny quotes etc. It's basically a little humor to get you through the day. It's inexpensive and people look forward to reading the new stuff each week.  


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