I love a good joke. But then, I’ll royally flub it upon the retelling. It ends up being something like, “There’s this funny joke about a guy, and some other guys and something about a heavy metal bar…” and one of my more mentally sound friends puts it together and re-tells it. At which I laugh all over again, even if they might not be as amused. 

For today, National Tell A Joke Day, I’ll spare you more like the above and instead encourage you to share your best laugh-inducing bits. Because, as the saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.” Turns out, that’s true.

The Mayo Clinic says laughter is a great stress reliever. Laughter has a multitude of other benefits, too, both temporary and long-term.

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Organ stimulation: Laughter requires more air, which means your body takes in more oxygen. Oxygen stimulates your lungs, heart, and muscles, and increases the endorphins released by your brain.

Stress Response: A good laugh induces the body’s fight-or-flight response, where the stress hormone cortisol is released. Once your body realizes it’s laughter, not danger, your blood pressure reduces and the feel-good hormones are released. 

Tension Soothing: With the extra oxygen and is-it-danger-or-not reaction, your body’s circulation will increase which aids in muscle relaxation and overall physical tension relief.

Improved Immune System: Negativity can eventually change your physiology. Your body will get used to stress, and seek more in order to regulate, which ultimately decreases your immunity. Positivity, on the other hand, reverses that effect. Good thoughts can release stress-fighting neuropeptides, which may potentially help fight more serious illnesses. 

Pain Relief: Feel-good hormones, an improved immune system, and ultimate tension relief can also lead to your body creating its own natural painkillers. 

Satisfaction: The more you laugh, the easier you’ll be at coping with the not-so-funny stuff. You’ll also become more connected with others, and since we’re social creatures, connection is personally satisfying. 

Mood Boost: A regular laugh-practice lessons stress, tension, and pain while increasing relaxation, immunity, and community. It’s an overall mood-lightener, which can help alleviate depressive symptoms. 

The Mayo Clinic says regular laughter can improve your sense of humor. I still can’t tell a joke, but I’m pretty good at laughing at myself if that counts. 

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