Ever heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine?” Did you know that laughter really is good for your health?

Laughter has a hugely positive effect on your physical body. According to the Mayo Clinic, when you laugh, your body takes in more oxygen-rich air, stimulating your heart, lungs, and muscles. In addition, your brain releases increased levels of endorphins (those are the feel good juices that reduce your sensation of pain). It can reduce stress hormones, lower your blood pressure, strengthen your immune system and tone your abdominal muscles (good-bye sit ups!).

Laughter is not only good for your body, it’s good for your family relationships. We know that laughing together helps people form relational connections with other people. Have you ever been part of (or left out of) an “inside joke?” Humor helps us diffuse anger and anxiety, aids in forming bonds of intimacy, and is especially important in marriage relationships.

So why wouldn’t you want to incorporate more laughter into your family? Here are some ideas for how to get laughing with those you love. As you try to intentionally bring laughter into your family life, remember to laugh together, and never at someone else’s expense.

  • Make silly faces at each other. You can even hold a contest to see who can make the silliest face.
  • Let kids dress up parents in their dress up clothes. This is especially funny with daddy.
  • Read funny books or stories together.
  • Read the newspaper comics together. Or check out a whole book of your favorite comic strip from the library. Read them together.
  • Have a movie night and watch a funny movie or old TV sitcoms (age appropriate, of course). I Love Lucy is a classic that just about any age can enjoy.
  • Check out a joke book from the library. Take turns telling jokes.
  • Have a tickle war! Tickling is one of the most effective ways to make a kid laugh, but do be careful with younger ones who might not have strong bladder control.
  • Look through old family photographs or home videos. I still think the video of my in-laws feeding the “cute” raccoons at their campsite circa 1990 is hilarious. What were they thinking?! Often the commentary from whoever was doing the recording is priceless!
  • Relive funny family stories from the past. I don’t know how many times my mom told the story of us driving through the car wash with all of our suitcases on the top luggage rack. We laughed every time!