One of the unfortunate things that sometimes comes with the holidays is stress. When there are so many plans and events and things to get done, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, especially on top of already hectic lives.
There are a lot of things you can do to reduce stress, from getting more sleep (7-9 hours is recommended for most adults!) to making time for a little bit of exercise to finding smart ways to make the things on your to do list easier.
Health Benefits of Laughter
It turns out that laughter has an actual physical affect on our bodies, one that can do a lot of good for us, starting with lowering those stress levels.
Benefit #1: Laughter Reduces Stress Hormones & Boosts the Immune System
Okay, it sounds a little far-fetched but it's true, laughter has been shown to lower the stress hormone cortisol in the blood stream, a hormone that can lead to chronic fatigue and weight gain when left unchecked.
Additionally, laughter actually activates the cells in your body that work to prevent and fight off infection, making you less likely to get sick.
Benefit #2: Laughter Relaxes the Entire Body
When was the last time you let out a truly hearty, belly-shaking kind of laugh? When you laugh like that, your muscles relax for up to 45 minutes afterward, causing your whole body to relax and making it easier to release stress and fatigue.
In fact, if you're having a hard time getting to sleep, spending a little time before bed reading something that makes you chuckle might help with that last push you need to sleep.
Benefit #3: Laughter Triggers the Release of Endorphins
Endorphins are the body's natural feel-good hormones. They can be released through a number of things, most notably exercise, but also laughter. In addition to making you feel happy and content, they're also known to naturally relieve pain.
It's a quick way to combat drama and stress around the holidays, so don't be afraid to take some time to laugh at the situation.
Benefit #4: Laughter Helps Protect Your Heart
Sounds a little too good to be true, but laughter improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure, contributing to heart health. It might not be a replacement for a healthy diet and exercise, but it sure is a fun way to help your heart!
Finding the Laughter
So when you need a good laugh in your life, where does it come from? Hanging out with friends and family you love is an awful good way to get started, laughter almost always springs naturally from a happy time with people you enjoy, but that doesn't mean you can't find other ways to laugh.
What's your favorite color? Decorate your bedroom to reflect it. Do silly puns make you grin? Find quotes and pictures that make you laugh when you see them.
Especially at home, when you walk in the door, it should make you happy--if there's anywhere that should make you smile, it's your own space.
Make social media more fun. Social media can be actually pretty stressful sometimes--staying connected can be exhausting for so many reasons. Make it a more fun place to be by joining accounts that bring you good news and a few good laughs along the way, too.
There are hundreds of accounts from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with everything from the best puns to the cutest animals that are waiting to make you laugh--it'll be a great break when you're scrolling through your feed and find something that gets a belly laugh.
Share the funny things you experience with friends. The only thing that makes funny things funnier is sharing them with other people. Seriously, there's something extremely contagious about laughter, and getting a good laugh from your friends can boost your own happiness!
Take whatever you find that makes you laugh and share it with the friends and family you think will appreciate it most. Share the moment and the laughs, and make everyone's stress a little lighter.