Audio: A little laughter goes
a long way

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What's absolutely free, has no known negative side effects and boasts health benefits ranging from boosting your immune system to reducing your food cravings? The punch line: laughter!

Need a chuckle? Sometimes, all it takes is someone else to get the giggles going.

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Research shows that laughing increases your threshold for pain, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, aids in the healing process, and triggers the release of endorphins - your body's natural painkillers. A good chuckle can even be contagious, elevating the mood of those around you and enhancing the quality of your social interactions.

In fact, multinational corporations are now in on the joke, using laugh therapy to relieve employee stress and help them lead more happy and productive lives. Here's what the buzz is all about and how you can incorporate laugh therapy into your everyday life:

Tip #1: Have your morning coffee with laughter

Wake up every morning feeling grumpy? Watch 30 minutes of your favourite comedy show before heading to work. After all, a Seinfeld rerun or Three Stooges oldie is far more likely to put a smile on your face than the morning headlines.

Tip #2: Call on your friends

Surround yourself with things that make you laugh — like your closest friends! Round up a group of buddies and head out to a comedy club for an evening of infectious chuckles and funny memories.

Tip #3: Check your local listings

Action flicks offer plenty of suspense but romantic comedies - whether in theatres or on a video store shelf - always deliver laughs.

Tip #4: Turn lemons into lemonade

Whether you've had a terrible week at work or experienced a big blowout with your significant other, it's possible to find humour in life's toughest moments if you look hard enough. Consider what comical spin you might put on a difficult event when relaying it to friends and family.

Tip #5: Make-believe joy

You don't have to bust a gut to reap the therapeutic rewards of laughter. Even smiling when you don't feel like it can alter your mood and relax your body. So smile more and fake laughter even when you feel like frowning.

Tip #6: Open your ears

That long ride to your in-laws’ house promises to be tortuous so add levity to your journey by popping in your favourite comedy CD. And commuting to work on the subway, train or bus is a lot easier to take if you’ve loaded your MP3 player with something that tickles your funny bone. (Warning: expect funny looks from your fellow commuters who want to be in on the joke.) Timeless classics include Rodney Dangerfield’s No Respect and Jerry Seinfeld’s I’m Telling You for the Last Time.

Tip #7: Be creative

Express your feelings through art. Draw an amusing caricature of that store clerk who spoke to you rudely. Or create a comic strip detailing last night's parking ticket fiasco. And don't worry about becoming the next Picasso. Putting paintbrush to paper is all about finding your funny bone - not fame.



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