Good work-life balance is something most people strive for. But when you work in one of the most stressful jobs in the healthcare field, finding that balance presents a challenge. You work hard, often long, irregular hours. Then you go home to family obligations, bills, and chores, sometimes bringing the stress of the job with you. One simple yet perhaps surprising thing can play a part in lowering your stress: laughter. Incorporate more laughter into your life and learn how laughter actually helps you unwind.

How Laughter is Proven to Reduce Stress

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter is the best medicine when it comes to reducing stress, both short-term and long-term. Short-term benefits include stimulation of organs and decreased tension. Long-term benefits include an overall improvement to your immune system, pain relief, a better mood, and even feeling better about yourself. According to HelpGuide, laughter releases endorphins, which make you feel better both physically and mentally.
Your brain is designed to recognize laughter. However, it doesn’t recognize whether you’re really laughing or whether it’s fake. So when you hear laughter from someone, your brain tries to get you to laugh as well. When you laugh for stress relief you even improve your sense of humor.

Make Yourself Laugh for Stress Relief

Know you need to laugh, but don’t know where to start? Sometimes you feel so worn out, laughing seems impossible. Try some of these ideas, or figure out what works for you and tell us in the comments.

Watch Funny Stuff

An easy way to laugh is to watch something that’s supposed to be funny. However, we don’t all find the sames things funny. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu categorize their programming so you can search their comedy selections, from sit-coms to standup. Netflix goes ever farther, drilling down to highly specific categories within the comedy genre. Give yourself a break if you don’t laugh at the same things someone else does. Everyone’s taste is specialized.

Call or Video Chat with a Friend Who You Laugh

How many times you been texting with someone and typed “LOL” without truly laughing? When you talk to someone by phone or video you can truly laugh and let the other person know you’re really laughing. Laughter truly is contagious, so the person you’re talking with will begin to feel more relaxed as well. You will gain a more genuine experience when you actually hear someone’s voice.

Laughter Yoga

It may sound silly, but there is such a thing as laughter yoga. According to laughter yoga’s website, the practice has been found to decrease blood pressure by six percent and showed stress levels dropped by 28 percent. During laughter yoga, you’ll find ways to give off a real laugh while giving more oxygen to your brain and body. Search for a class in your area and see if it works for you.

Interact with Your Pet

Pets already put a smile on your face. They can be downright hilarious when you give them toys and activities that elicit their instincts. Look for interactive toys, and play right along with them. Get down on the ground and don’t be afraid to get dirty. Most pets love the attention, and they often tend to make us laugh. 

Listen to Humorous Podcasts

Podcasts are great because you can put them on and escape into laughter even while you do other things. Laugh while you do laundry or mop the floor. Thrillist has a list of some of the funniest podcasts out there. Spotify also has well-known podcasts you can listen to when you need a stress reliever.

Hold a Game Night

Games are designed to be fun, so why not host a game night with friends or family so you can all laugh together? Turn off the TV and break out the games. Whether it’s an entertaining round of charades or laughing at a friend’s terrible drawing skills in Pictionary, being around friends with probably make you laugh at some point. BuzzFeed has a list of simple party games that are fun for people of any age to play.

Spend Time Around Kids

If you have kids of your own, you know what a lot of work parenting is. It’s definitely not all fun and games. But take the time to stop and appreciate the many funny things they do and say. If you don’t have kids of your own make time to connect with nieces and nephews or offer to help chaperone your friend’s kid’s birthday party. Just taking time to notice how kids view the world can make it a little less stressful. And they often crack you up.

Try incorporating some of these activities into your schedule. And next time you’re feeling stressed, just try forcing a small laugh. Did you feel yourself smile a little? Just that small act can start making anyone feel a little better.