I won’t beat around the bush — we are treading rough waters and it can be hard to keep your hopes up during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is mentally taxing to constantly live through stress and talk about the devastating current events.

But there’s no need to envelop yourself in hopelessness and despair; at times like this, you have to try your best to keep things light and light-hearted. They say laughter is the best medicine, and this saying is not unfounded. Laughter relieves stress and tension, and has many positive effects on your body.

The Science Behind Laughter

As much as laughter may seem like a mental and emotional experience, it induces physical changes in your body as well. Laughter releases many endorphins, also known as peptide hormones, in the brain. These specific endorphins released cause a euphoric-like feeling. In turn, we begin to feel more relaxed and at ease. Specifically, bursts of laughter release lots of serotonin, a natural antidepressant known as the “happy hormone.” How cool is that?!

Additionally, when you laugh you intake a lot of oxygen. This laughter stimulates and protects many of your internal organs like the lungs and heart (similar to the effect of an anti-inflammatory drug, but without the drugs). It also increases blood circulation and relaxes muscles, soothing any existing physical tensions.

In addition to the short-term effects, laughter has several long-term benefits as well. It can lift your overall mood, relieve pain, boost your immune system, and increase your personal satisfaction. Laughter makes it easier to cope with difficult situations, like the one the world is in now. And even if your intention is to simply feel better, laughter can help you build stronger connections with those who you are laughing with.

Practical Ways to Implement Happiness and Laughter

Laughter is not only a medicine for despair; it also helps us to resist our despairs and fears instead of reconciling ourselves to them. This is not to say that comedy forces us to deny misery; rather, it allows us to laugh at our problems rather than give in to them. The mockery and refusal to be upset at the problems we face is what emboldens us and allows us to better cope with them.

It’s hard to be happy, and that is understandable. But go ahead, give it a try, even if you have to force yourself. Turn that frown upside down and see how it feels and how your body responds. Let yourself go and laugh your worries away. We have to take care of ourselves in these very grueling moments. Spread the laughter and share the smiles!