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Here we are in a new year, and I’ve been thinking about something simple I could do to improve my life.

I am sure you have all heard of the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine,” and I wanted to share how this is true, and how we can all be healthier and happier by taking things a little less seriously.

Laughter can be a pain killer. When we laugh, our body produces endorphins that kill pain by decreasing stress, anxiety and reducing chronic pain.

A good long laugh can increase your heart rate, strengthening the heart muscle, much like taking a walk can.

Laughter can protect your body. It has been shown that those who have a positive outlook and laugh a lot have fewer chronic diseases. On the flip side, those who are negative and don’t laugh are more prone to illness. A good belly laugh can even tone your abs.

Laughter activates your immune system and starts your body producing T-cells that kill germs, so if you are getting the sniffles, watch a funny movie and laugh them away.

Laughter can also lower your blood pressure, decrease stress and help with depression.

This year, I am going to work on seeing the funny side of things, actively choosing to laugh when I could cry and trying to take myself less seriously.

I hope you will all join me in this and have a happy, healthy new year.

(Sarah Redfern is a registered nurse for Samaritan Wiley Creek Community Retirement Center.)

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