Huffpost Women

National Humor Month: Laughing Matters

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Are you stressed out? Unable to relax? Feeling gloomy? Well, you might consider going for a long and exhausting jog, or engaging in a frantic game of paddle ball to work out those frustrations. Or, if you want more immediate results, you can just laugh it off!

April is National Humor Month, so this is the perfect time to add a little humor into your daily routine. Founded in 1976 by author and humorist Larry Wilde, the original idea was to heighten public awareness of the therapeutic and restorative values of joy and laughter. After all, many studies have shown that laughter can actually improve our health. And laughter is fun! After all, you can't feel sad or angry when you're laughing, right?

The fact is that laughter itself changes us physiologically. Like exercise or waving your arms around, it boosts the heart rate and increases blood flow, so we breathe faster and more oxygen is delivered to the body's tissues. Our facial muscles stretch and we actually burn calories when we're laughing. In fact, the mere act of smiling can alter your mood almost immediately.

Of course, there are always skeptics out there, like that cranky co-worker across the way or that grumpy relative you try to avoid at the holidays. But here are a few fun facts that you might want to mention to them:

Laughter Reduces Stress: When stressed, we produce a hormone called cortisol. Laughter can significantly reduce cortisol levels.

Laughter Can Reduce Pain: Laughter causes us to produce endorphins, which are natural, pain-killing hormones.

Laughter Strengthens the Immune System: A hearty laugh decreases stress hormones and increases production of T-cells, immune proteins and infection-fighting antibodies.

Laughter Helps the Heart: When we laugh we increase blood flow and the function of blood vessels, which can help prevent cardiovascular problems.

Laughter Relaxes the Whole Body: One good belly laugh can relieve physical tension and relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes.

Laughter Helps You Recharge: By reducing stress levels and increasing your energy, laughter can help you focus and achieve more.

So, not only is a great giggle a lot of fun, it's good for you! And like yawning, laughter can also be contagious. So by opening yourself up to more humor in your daily life, you may also have a positive effect on those around you. And the great thing about humor is that there is a bottomless supply out there. You don't need to sign up for anything. It doesn't cost a thing. It's fat-free and you can have as much of it as you like.

So in celebration of National Humor Month, and to get the giggles started, we've put together a slideshow of some hilarious video clips.

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