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Mental Health

You Deserve a LOL Break: How Laughter Improves Your Mood, Health and Alleviates Aches

See three tricks that guarantee a giggle, including clips from some of the best female comedians

Laughter is often said to be the best medicine, and it turns out there’s scientific truth behind this adage. As we navigate life, the importance of humor and joy becomes increasingly clear. Embracing laughter can lead to a stronger immune system, enhanced mood and reduced stress. To learn more about the benefits of laughter, we spoke to experts on how your favorite funny story impacts your body, as well as fun ways to incorporate more humor in your daily routine. Plus, we’re sharing some fantastic female comedians over 50 who are guaranteed to make you crack a smile.

Laughter is contagious

Laughter is a universal human experience — an involuntary, physical reaction to stimuli. While we can experience laughter on our own, it mostly occurs in social settings. In fact, laughter is a social emotion. An article in Trends in Cognitive Sciences found that laughter is behaviorally contagious, and we’re 30 times more likely to laugh with others present.

How laughter benefits your body

According to Deborah Gilman, PhD, owner and licensed psychologist at Fox Chapel Psychological Services, “laughter triggers the release of endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. These endorphins can help manage some menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and muscle aches. Additionally, laughter can lower stress hormones like cortisol, leading to better sleep and a calmer mood.”

Steven Sultanoff, PhD, a psychologist and adjunct professor at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology, adds that laughter also boosts immune function by increasing levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps fight respiratory infections. Laughter may even help manage blood sugar levels and increase infection-fighting antibodies.

mature woman laughing in a laughter yoga class

How laughter benefits your mind

While laughter itself is a physical response, the humor that makes us chuckle plays a more important role in lifting your spirits. “Humor activates ‘mirth,’ the emotional response to humor,” Sultanoff explains. “That response reduces distressing emotion and increases uplifting emotions such as joy, pleasure and delight.” He adds that humor also activates “wit,” which can allow us to see different perspectives, and “relational fusion,” which fosters interpersonal bonding.

Stressful day? It’s laughter to the rescue again. “Laughter is like a stress reset button for your brain,” Gilman says. “It decreases anxiety and lifts your mood by triggering the release of feel-good chemicals like serotonin. This can be especially helpful for managing symptoms of depression, which can be more common during menopause due to hormonal changes.”

How to tap into the benefits of laughter

It’s easier than you might think to surround yourself with humor. Whether it’s spending time with people who make you laugh or hosting more game nights, a regular giggle can brighten your day without a lot of effort. Try some of these tips below:

1. Join a laughter yoga class

“If you’re looking for a fun and social way to manage stress, boost your mood, and connect with others, then laughter yoga might be worth checking out,” Gilman says. “The key benefit of laughter yoga is that it doesn’t rely on jokes or humor. It focuses on the physical act of laughter itself. Laughter yoga combines elements of laughter, breathing exercises, and playfulness.”

Check out the 15-minute laughter yoga video below to get started.

2. Crack a joke

“Many people love to share their humor,” says Sultanoff. He suggests sharing “stories, anecdotes, riddles, jokes as well as other funny moments.” This causes you to experience the same emotions as when you first experienced them. In fact, Sultanoff says, “For many individuals, the sharing is actually more delightful than the original experience. As we share humor, we are emotionally uplifted, physically aroused and creating bonds with others.”

3. Check out these popular female comedians

These female comedians know a thing or two about humor — especially when it comes to the hassles that women over 50 are dealing with.

Kathleen Madigan

Kathleen Madigan has gained popularity for her relatable humor and effortless storytelling. Her comedy often focuses on the absurdities of everyday life, delivered with a straightforward, no-nonsense style. Follow her on Instagram: @officialkathleenmadigan.

Leanne Morgan

Leanne Morgan shares tons of relatable humor with her down-to-earth comedic style. She often draws from her experiences as a wife and mother. Her comedy has a sense of warmth and authenticity. Follow her on Instagram: @leannemorgancomedy.

Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones is a dynamic comedian known for her bold humor and infectious energy. Rising to fame through her standout performances on Saturday Night Live, Leslie’s comedy is characterized by her unapologetic delivery and sharp wit. Follow her on Instagram: @lesdogggg.

More enjoyable ways to boost your mood:

Get Healthy by Having Fun With Friends? Yes! See Why More Doctors Are Practicing Social Prescribing

5 Expert Ways To Outsmart Imposter Syndrome + Boost Your Confidence

Goodbye, Stress! A Doctor Shares How To Increase Your Levels of Mood-Lifting Oxytocin Naturally

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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