Celebrate World Belly Laugh Day for Stress Management

Have a Belly Laugh Today!

Laugh more today, and every day!. Peter Dressel/ Getty Images

 Laughter carries many natural benefits, which is why it feels so good, and why we even have days devoted to celebrating it!  January 24th is one such day: World Belly Laugh Day, which, according to founder Elaine Helle, is about celebrating with "the people in your life past and present, who laugh with you and help you laugh and smile... and remembering the strange, funny, 'now I can laugh at it' moments."  

It's nice to really focus on the role of laughter in your life and on ways to create more laughter, happiness, and joy, so these "laughter holidays" can be really helpful in helping you really shift your focus in this direction.  If it's not one of the designated laughter observances, however, I strongly encourage you to create a day to cultivate laughter in your life anytime you can, or work in a little extra laughter into each day as you can, making it a habit.  

There are many reasons to focus on laughter as a way to create stress-managing habits in your life.  Here are some important ones:

  • Laughter can disrupt negative emotional cycles and the internal experiences that contribute to them, such as anger and rumination.  A dose of positive emotion at the right time can literally save a bad day and help you turn it into a good one.
  • Laughing with others can create a greater sense of closeness, increasing social support, which is a significant stress reliever.  Laughter, it is said, is the shortest distance between two people, so sharing a laugh with people in your life, whether you are close to them or are mere acquaintances, can bring you closer.  
  • Learning to laugh at situations that embarrass, stress, or upset you can defuse the stress they create.  This can take some of the intensity out of your stress levels and minimize the effects of chronic stress, lessening the damage to your body and psyche.  
  • Sharing a laugh with others in your life can lift your spirits, and theirs.  This enables you to become surrounded by happier people.  Because happiness can be contagious, their happiness can buoy your mood even more, which can create a more positive social environment for both of you.
  • Laughter for its own sake is also important, and can benefit the body in many ways.  (Here's a list of some of the greater benefits of laughter.) 
  • Laugher and other positive states of mind really can lessen stress, and that helps to improve quality of life in many areas.  Enjoying a laugh is free and fun, so that makes it a great stress management tool that's accessible to just about everyone.

Now that you understand the "why" of creating a day focused on laughter, and generally increasing the laughter level of your life, let's look more at the "how."  There are many simple ways of reaching this goal, some of which involve planning, and some of which can just be done on the fly. (I suggest a mix of both.)  Here are some easily applicable ideas you can use to laugh more in your daily life, today and every day you choose.

Ask people to tell you their favorite jokes.  We don't always just work these into conversations, but you'd be surprised by how many people have some good ones just waiting to be told.  

  • Find some fun, old-fashioned jokes and share them with friends.  (Here are some that I like.)
  • Look online for some laughs.  As you may now, there are many really funny sites online that have new material daily.  We all have unique tastes in what makes us laugh, so find a site that resonates with your sense of humor and visit regularly.  (It's better to stay away from humor that demeans others or is negative in other ways, as this dampens some of the benefits of humor.)
  • Learn to laugh at yourself and your mistakes.  This helps you to take life's setbacks more lightly, brings you closer to others, and gives you the benefit of laughter as well.
  • Watch (or re-watch) a favorite funny show.
  • Funny books are great, too, and there are some fantastic, laugh-aloud reads out there!  For a fun commute, try audiobooks; often, comedy books are read by the authors themselves, and their comedic voice just adds to the fun.  
  • Humorous audiobooks are great for workouts, too, I've found; they take my mind off of the "work" of a workout and make things more enjoyable.
  • Notice which people in your life make you laugh more.  Spend more time with them, and make it a point to joke around with them regularly.
  • You might look into laughter yoga.  It's not for everyone, but laugher yoga exercises can help you learn to laugh when there's nothing specifically funny, and the laughter can become so intense you get a real abdominal workout.  I've found that these exercises make it easier to laugh when you want to laugh, rather than waiting for external circumstances to make you laugh.

Here are some more ideas for laughing more and having more fun.  Enjoy!

Continue Reading