Your mother may have said it when you were feeling under the weather, or maybe you have heard it repeated in a movie: “Laughter is the best medicine.” But is it really? Is the old adage really true—can you really laugh your way to better health? If you are ill or just feeling down in the dumps, should you stop what you are doing right now and have a good chuckle?

Your Brain When You Laugh

Your brain is in charge of many activities your body does—from walking to talking to breathing and moving. Your brain also produces chemicals that have a tremendous impact on your body as well, from how fast your heart beats to how you fight off disease and sickness.

Your mind and body are strong allies, as evidenced through the mind-body connection which surmises that negative emotions can negatively affect your body (just think of all the effects stress has on your body), and positive emotions can positively affect your body.

What Happens When You Laugh

By simply laughing, your brain tells your body to produce chemicals that:

• Boost Your Immune System to Fight Infection

• Relax Your Entire Body, Relieving Tension

• Release Endorphins Which Improve Your Mood

• Manage Pain and Stress

• Improve the Function of Blood Vessels

• Increase Circulation

• Prevent Heart Disease

• Ease Anxiety and Fear

A plethora of scientific research backs up the benefits of laughing, and more is still being discovered today. Laughing truly is one of the best medicines, and it does not just have physical and mental health benefits, but social benefits as well.

Laughing also strengthens relationships, attracts others to you, improves teamwork, and can help defuse a conflict. The next time you are with your significant other, a group of friends, or working in a team on a project at work, do not be afraid to lighten up and laugh a little. Your relationships will benefit from a dose of laughter and a good giggle.

Fill Your Life with More Laughter

You do not need a medical license to treat yourself or someone you know with a little laughter. Even if you are on your own, you can do many things to add some cheer to your day. Do not be afraid to laugh by yourself:

• Spend Time With Children—Children smile, on average, 400 times a day, while most of us smile only 20 times a day. Research also suggests that children laugh, on average, 300 times a day, whereas adults laugh only 20 times, on average.

• Seek Out Funny People—Make friends with individuals who are naturally more cheerful and laugh more. Set up a shopping date, a dinner date, or just invite him/her over to your house.

• Watch a Comedy—Pop in a movie, grab some popcorn, and laugh!

• Play with a Pet—Spend some time with your pet, and allow yourself to truly enjoy it.

• Make Time for Karaoke, Bowling, or Other Activities—Think about an activity you enjoy, and then go do it. You are bound to laugh at some point while participating—whether it is at yourself or someone else.

There are countless ways to get laughing, but make sure you do just that. Laughing is one of the best medicines—and it is cheaper, too!