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De-Stressing Through Laughter - 10 Ways It Improves Your Health

Mar 01, 2013 | Updated May 01, 2013

Last Monday was terrible. The phone began ringing before 9 a.m., I had back-to-back (to-back) meetings well into the afternoon, and by the time happy hour arrived, I was not happy at all. My back hurt and my head was spinning. I was, what my mom used to call, "cranky."

Then a friend sent me an email -- no message, just a YouTube link -- and I clicked onto it. Before I knew it, I was howling. That's all it took -- literally five seconds -- to turn my mood around and put me in a great frame of mind to enjoy my evening.

And all because of laughter.

This weekend, the "National Day of Unplugging" began at sunset on Friday, March 1. And in our 24/7 world of constant communication and media overload, I think that is a great thing. We all just get too swept up in our day-to-day worries and stressed out by the chaos around us -- and, boy, it's hard to remember to slow down and enjoy all the good things in our lives. The healthy things. The funny things.

De-stressing has become a big issue in recent years and there are lots of wonderful ways to decompress. It's really just a matter of finding what works for you, be it yoga, meditation, a glass of wine or just a nice long nap. But for me, personally, nothing beats funny.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to laugh. I grew up laughing, surrounded by some of the greatest comics of our time. So to this day, when I'm tense or stressed out, I make a bee-line for laughter -- whether it's a funny movie, a hilarious game of Charades with my goofier friends, or a quick trip to a comedy club. Jerry Seinfeld once told me that the average child laughs around 75 times a day, and adults average something like 12 times. I don't like those numbers at all, and I think we can do better!

Laughter is important, not only because it makes us happy, it also has actual health benefits. And that's because laughter completely engages the body and releases the mind. It connects us to others and that in itself has a healing effect.

My dear friend Alan Alda once had this to say about laughter: "Funny people -- really funny people -- will be funny under any circumstances. Someone can just lift their eyebrow or make a little shift in their tone, or get a look in their eye, and you'll fall down laughing. And that's because they want to be in a pleasant frequency with you. It's like you're both tuned into the same thing, and you're dancing together. And through that funniness, the two of you can share a moment of pleasure that you can't get any other way. An intimacy."

I like that idea a lot, and I hope you'll remember it today as you unplug and de-stress. And however you decide to enjoy the day, be sure to throw in a few laughs. Not only will it make the day more fun for everyone around you, you'll also be improving your health in the process.

Happy Unplugging Day!

De-Stressing Through Laughter