“Laughter is the best medicine.” Turns out, that phrase rings true. Laughing actually causes a number of positive physiological changes in the body. Learn the benefits, and how you can inject some humor into your life.

“Laughter is to the soul what sunshine is to a flower.”  -Peggy Toney Horton

Is there anything better than having a good laugh? As in, a deep belly laugh that leaves you in stitches?

Whether it is a joke amongst friends, or a funny scene on the screen that makes us howl, a moment of laughter brings us joy, stronger social bonds, relief from tension, and helps us cope with life’s everyday stressors.

Over 250 comedy clubs exist in the United States for the sole purpose of making people laugh.

There’s even a form of yoga, called Laughter Yoga, that incorporates laughter with exercise to boost mood, beat stress, and induce relaxation and a sense of optimism.

Beyond making us simply feel good, laughter also has some real positive effects on our body.

Laughing may reduce pain

Scientists believe that there are biological reasons that having a good laugh can relieve pain.

For starters, laughing can cause the body to produce feel-good endorphins, hormones that actually exert an analgesic, or pain relieving, effect.

Laughter is also a natural immunity booster, increasing natural killer cell and antibody activity, which both help to rapidly respond to viruses.

Laughing can induce calm and relaxation

Being caught up in a fit of laughter does wonders to reduce stress.

Laughing calms down our nervous system’s stress response by decreasing cortisol, increasing circulation and the amount of oxygen we breathe, and stimulating our lungs, muscles, and heart.

The result? The soothing of muscle tension and a feeling of enhanced relaxation.

Laughter is a natural antidepressant

Alongside its unique ability to reduce stress, laughter can also counteract the symptoms of depression.

Besides the obvious distraction from feeling sad, hopeless, and frustrated, laughing allows us to cope better by shifting how we examine stressful events and bolstering our sense of optimism and resilience.

In short, laughing can allow us to see objectively that our obstacles are simply challenges, rather than threats.

As a bonus, laughter can raise our self-esteem, improve our interactions with others, and generally enhance our quality of life.

Ways to incorporate more laughter into your life

When life gets bumpy, remember that finding humor and laughing often is not only acceptable, but necessary for your health. Need some inspiration to help drum up some laughter on demand? Read on below.

Laugh at your situation. If you look hard enough, you can find that life has a sense of humor.  See if you can find the humor in even the most stressful of situations, and laugh about it, melting away your stress for an instant pick-me-up. Even if laughing feels fake at first, forced laughter often turns into genuine laughter before long.

Keep humor in plain view. Start a collection of funny photos, memes, comic strips, and movies that you can refer to for a boost of humor any time. Subscribe to funny YouTube channels and check in often for new content. Animals doing tricks, humans performing pranks, and comedians doing improv are a few favorites.

Learn how to be funny. Some people are born funny, but like most other people skills, learning to be funnier is definitely possible. Use your real-life, embarrassing, day to day experiences as fodder for future, hilarious storytelling to others. Jot down those comical details so that you can recall them later. If you are really serious about being funny, take a stand-up comedy class where you will learn to write and deliver your own jokes.

Channel your inner kid. Ever notice how children inherently know just how to be silly and spontaneous and joyful? They are natural fun-makers because they do not take life seriously. Take a cue from them and let out your inner goofball from time to time. Crack jokes, do funny voices and faces, and crank up the music and dance. Your loved ones will appreciate it!