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A good sense of humor may just be the key to good health. When you laugh, your blood pressure decreases, your muscles go to work, and your blood sugar stabilizes. Try cracking a joke the next time you’re feeling under the weather, doing so could reduce your need for more conventional treatments and medications. After all – they do say laughter is the best medicine, and it might make all the difference during any of theses instances.

Times of stress

Stress is hard on your body, and over long periods it can be the cause of heart disease and other serious conditions. However, you can battle stress by laughing, which releases hormones that counteract damaging stress hormones in the body. As an added bonus, you may burn about 20% more calories than usual by laughing more often.

Hospital stays

If you do ever have to stay in the hospital, you might shorten your stay when friends and family share jokes at your bedside. Laughter has benefits in a clinical setting, because it promotes the body’s natural healing processes. Blood flow is increased and more oxygen reaches the organs and soft tissues. This can actually shorten the time needed to recover from surgery or illness, so don’t be afraid to laugh. Laughter is even used as an alternative therapy in cancer treatment supported by institutions such as the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Times of grief

You may feel absolutely overwhelmed during times of grief, but laughter can actually help you let it all out. Just as crying can provide some relief in times of stress and sadness, laughter can be highly therapeutic. While you may not be in the mood to joke, you might share happy memories with your loved ones to keep a smile on your face. Because laughter is a social activity, it may also make you feel better by attracting others to you.

When you’re in pain

Chronic pain can be difficult to cope with, as it is often accompanied by depression. Incorporating laughter into your therapy for chronic pain may turn around your mood and allow you to face other treatments more confidently. Laughter is also a great healing mechanism for acute pain, because it releases endorphins that raise your tolerance for pain.

What makes you genuinely laugh? During National Humor Month this April, find the best sources of laughter for your personality and don’t hold back when you feel the urge to chuckle.

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