Why you should laugh a lot more at work

Laughing is a vulnerable affair, but it can be a great way to stay focused in the belly of a stressful work week, science even says so.

I had some pretty gnarly anxieties when starting my most recent job.

Thankfully I lucked into sharing an office with a part-time, stand-up comedian. Every weekday, for about an hour, I’m treated to perhaps the most visceral attacks on my character. And it’s done wonders for my productivity; it helps that the barbs are funny of course.


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The immediate effects of a good laugh session have become even more visible in a professional context. You return to your desk feeling more energized, and a little less self-important. Laughing is a vulnerable affair, but it can be a great way to stay focused in the belly of a stressful work week, science even says so.

The link between laughter and productivity

Laughter boasts an established positive correlation with stress reduction. The process actually improves our ability to take in oxygen-rich air, which in turn improves heart health, muscle relaxation, and lung functionality. The long term befits of budgeting your day to accommodate a couple of wise-cracks, have been studied to boost our immune system, due to the release of neuropeptides that occurs when we have positive thoughts.

Laughter Wellness refers to the appreciation of laughter as a therapeutic method of managing stress and decreasing risks for chronic illnesses. The Journal of Primary Prevention backed workplace laughter as a strategy for enhancing employee morale, resilience, and personal efficacy beliefs. On a biological level, laughter has been shown to stimulate catecholamines, which are hormones responsible for the release of endorphins.

Unfortunately, outside the world of science, laughter is probably more often linked to poor time management, even though the research seems to imply the contrary. Leila Lewis of Fast Company makes a great point about all the money corporations dump into activities meant to foster employee solidarity.

Off-site happy hours, team building actives, and video games are all much more expensive than setting aside some time to guffaw.

The data is pretty undeniable. Workers are better at performing tasks when they are in a good mood.


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.