How often do you laugh at work? I mean, unabashed genuine belly laughter. Laughter that you're not trying to control so as not to disturb a coworker, or offend someone in a meeting. We're often more reserved at work than we are in our day-to-day lives, and for good reason sometimes.

But with more and more Americans working longer hours and taking less vacation, chances are you and your office are in some good need of laughter. And it turns out that all that laughing has a heap of business benefits.

According to research from institutions like Wharton, MIT and London Business School, laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity. Harvard Business School professor Alison Wood Brooks has also found that cracking jokes at work can make people seem more competent.

The Mayo Clinic explains that when you start to laugh, it doesn't just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. It increases your oxygen intake, your brain's release of endorphins, and can reduce the physical symptoms of stress like aiding in muscle relaxation and leading to increased productivity.

Stress management among employees and employers is more crucial than ever. When you're stressed you're at a greater risk for illness, anxiety, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, and even forgetfulness. I don't need to explain how detrimental it is for a business to have workers forgetting or taking multiple sick days.

It seems like laugher really is the best medicine here. And it's free! If you can't find time to laugh during the day, here are a few more ways to ease stress and increase your productivity.

Create a Meditation Practice

If you practice silencing your thoughts, you'll give your brain a much-needed break. This means your focus will be crystal clear when you get back to work. Doing just 30 minutes of meditation every day will double your productivity. Another added benefit of meditation is that it can reduce stress and improve your mood.

Ditch the Conference Room

The next time you have a meeting with colleagues, take it outside. Stroll through a local park, go around the block, walk around the building. This exercise will get you out of your seat for a well-deserved leg stretch. Plus, it boosts creativity as new environments and views inspire new perspectives and thought processes.

Grab a Journal

If you're highly structured then planning tools can save huge amounts of time and energy. Things like bullet journaling and gratitude journals can help keep you focused and energized to take on the day.

Published on: Mar 4, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.