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Laugh it up! It’s good for you!

young woman covering her mouth while laughing

Everyone appreciates a good laugh. Chuckling with friends over a good joke or watching a funny show on TV can make you feel relaxed and happy. And researchers have found that laughing can actually cause physical changes – good ones – in your body.

When you laugh, you speed up your breathing and take in more oxygen. It stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and encourages your brain to release hormones called endorphins that help control pain. Laughing also stimulates circulation and aids muscle relaxation, which helps reduce some of the symptoms of stress.

Over the long term, humor can help you cope with difficult situations, and connect with other people.

Nurture your sense of humor by following comedians online, watching funny movies, and spending time with people who make you laugh. Try to find the humor in life’s everyday situations. Think of how you can turn a frustrating experience into a funny story to share later. And if all else fails, fake it! Even pretending to laugh and smile gives you some of the same benefits as the real thing. And with practice, you may soon be laughing for real.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.