Can Laughing Help Me Cope With Stress?

Question: Can laughing help me cope with stress?

Answer: We've known -- I think, anecdotally for years -- that laughter makes people feel better and makes them feel more relaxed. And given that we know that stress is a risk factor for illness, one would expect that laughter might have therapeutic benefits. And in the last 10 years or so, there have been a number of studies suggesting this, that indeed when people are ill, if they're exposed to comedy, if they're exposed to things that lighten their heart, it has beneficial effects on their immune system and beneficial effects on their stress system.

Laughter is also contagious. And so your laughter can actually probably benefit the health of other people. There was recently a study, for instance, done in Japan that showed that if you look at allergic children, when they listen to their mother laugh, they actually have less of an allergic response. So that the mother's laughter actually helps modulate the little child's immune system. So that not only do we probably benefit our own health when we laugh, but we're probably benefiting the health of people we love and care about.