“The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness.” - Milan Kundera

Is there a universal way for all freelancers to alleviate stress and keep the creative juices flowing? Meditation might work for some, power-naps for others. But is there anything that we can all share?

There is one thing, but in order to partake, you’re going to need a sense of humor.

A good laugh has been shown to leave the muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. You don’t need a massage table, yoga mat, or eye pillow. If you’re feeling ambitious you can go see a live standup comedian or watch a funny movie, but all you really need is to have a chat with someone that’s in on the joke.

Did you know that people are 30 times more likely to laugh while in social settings than when they’re alone? Say what you want about office jobs, but it’s often refreshing to share a quick laugh with a nearby co-worker. As freelancers we tend to work outside of traditional work environments, leaving us alone much of the time. Alone time is fine, but getting a few good laughs in over the course of your day is more important than you might think.

If you’re reluctant to get in on the joke just remember that even if you don’t get it, your body does:

*Breathe in, laugh out *
Laughing has been shown to help relieve stress, physical tension, and aggression. Have you ever made a conscious choice to laugh in the face of a seemingly insurmountable issue? It’s not easy, but it never hurts to introduce a little comic relief to a difficult situation. Think about it, is there anything else that forces you to smile?

Laugh the pain away
Laughing sets endorphins free, and endorphins are your body’s natural means of relieving pain. In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins claims to have used the Marx Brothers and episodes of Candid Camera to help relieve the pain of a chronic, inflammatory spine disease. Ten minutes of laughter, he said, gave him 2 hours of pain-free sleep. Another bodily reaction to laughter is an increase in the production of immune cells and antibodies, which improve your ability to fight off diseases. Feel a cold coming on? Why not try laughing it off?

Does your heart have a favorite comedian?
Laughter increases blood flow. This helps reduce the chances of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. Dramas have actually been shown to increase tension in blood vessels, so don’t overload on the serious stuff!

Exercise without breaking a sweat
Remember the last time you laughed so hard you could barely breathe? When you laugh, you breathe deeper. This increased inhalation results in more oxygen, ultimately helping to clear your respiratory system.

Charles Bukowski once said, “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” As freelancers, we’re bound to encounter some rough patches. When you’re forced to walk through that fire, don’t lose your sense of humor!