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Laugh Your Way to Stress Reduction

If you take life (and yourself) too seriously, you can just about guarantee that your stress level will be higher than it has to be. Life is filled with hassle, inconvenience, and a myriad of other nuisances that can either drive you crazy or bring a smile to your face.

And even the more serious problems that may come your way often contain a trace of humor. Humor gives you the ability to defuse much of the potential stress and pressure all around you. A sharp sense of the absurd combined with a dash of whimsy can make your life far less stressful.

Humor is a more serious stress-reducer than you may think. Here are some of the ways it can lower your stress level:

  • It relaxes your body. The physical act of laughing can result in an overall lowering of your physiological stress level. After rising briefly while you’re laughing, your blood pressure drops and your heart rate slows. The brain may also release endorphins, which can induce a more calming physical state.

  • It can enhance your immunity. Researchers are beginning to discover that humor may have even more important health-enhancing effects. Laughter reduces your body’s production of stress hormones while increasing production of disease-resisting T-cells and the chemical interferon, all of which can result in a stronger immune system.

  • It gives you perspective. Humor creates distance and objectivity. If you can find some way to see a potentially stressful situation in a humorous way, you reduce the stress potential of that experience.

  • It can get you to take yourself less seriously. Much of your stress comes from giving too much importance to how you see yourself or how others see you. If you can learn how to laugh at yourself, you rob other people — and circumstances themselves — of their ability to trigger your stress.

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