Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke…

Covid… lockdowns.. floods… drought… protests… inflation… who needs a good laugh right now?

Yes, It is true: laughter is strong medicine. When it comes to relieving stress, having a laugh is just what the doctor ordered. 

It triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, relieves pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. A good laugh is guaranteed to lighten your mood, connect you to others, and keep you focused, and alert. It also helps you to release anger and frustration.

How does it work?

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.  It also decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.

A good sense of humor can’t ‘cure all’, but there is a lot of data about the positive impact of  laughter.

Short-term benefits

When you laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs.Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response.A good laugh revs your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension.Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. 
  • Laughter gives you a mini-work-out. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts your abdominal muscles and also works your shoulders. This will make you feel a lot more relaxed.


Laughing 100 x is the equivalent to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike! So a good excuse to settle down with a good comedy on a weekend!

Long-term effects

Laughter is also good for you over the long term:

Laughter boosts your immune system

Laughter actually increases the number of antibody-producing T cells. This then makes us less likely to get coughs and colds. It also lowers the levels of at least four hormones that are associated with stress, so after a good giggle you should be far less tense and anxious.

Laughter relieves pain

Not only does laughter distract you from aches, but it releases feelgood endorphins as natural painkillers into your system that are more powerful than the same amount of morphine.

Laughter Increases personal satisfaction.

Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations and helps you connect with other people.

Laughter helps relieve depression. 

Laughing reduces tension and stress, and lowers anxiety and irritation, which are all major factors that contribute to depression. It can also improve your self-esteem.

Laughter lowers your blood pressure.

When you laugh, blood pressure increases at first, but then it decreases to levels below normal. Breathing then becomes deeper and this helps to send oxygen-rich blood
and nutrients throughout the body.

Laughter improves your breathing

Laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in resulting in a cleansing effect… similar to deep breathing. This is especially helpful
for people who are suffering from respiratory ailments, such as asthma.

Laughter improves your social life.

Everyone loves a joker so it is easier to make friends. At work a good sense of humour will help you be more productive, a better communicator and team player.

Laughter boosts your relationship.

Laughter can help you
find a new partner as people are attracted to who makes them laugh, and who they can make laugh. (note that women actually laugh 125% more than men). And if you’re already with someone, then a shared sense of humour is an important factor in keeping your relationship running smoothly.

Laughter helps you lose weight!

A good laugh raises the heart rate and speeds up the metabolism.

So think seriously about adding laughter to your exercise regime. A
good sitcom might easily keep you laughing for 20 minutes or more.

How can you find a laugh when you need it?

-Improve your sense of humor

Humor can be learned. In fact, developing or refining your sense of humor may be easier than you think.

-Put humor on your horizon.

Find a few simple items, ie pictures, that make you smile. Then hang them up where you can see them. Keep funny movies, TV shows, books, magazines or comedy videos on hand for when you need an added humor boost. Look online at joke websites or silly videos. Listen to humorous podcasts. Go to a comedy club.

-Laugh and the world laughs with you.

Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.

Consider trying laughter yoga. In laughter yoga, people practice laughter as a group. Laughter is forced at first, but it can soon turn into spontaneous laughter.

-Share a laugh.

Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.

Go ahead and give it a try right now!

Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then laugh out loud. It may feel a little forced at first but will soon turn into a real laugh. Then take stock of how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work!