Ashley Graham Says Laughing Is the Number One Way She Practices Wellness

The model and mom talks all about what wellness means to her, including her favorite workouts and the benefits of journaling.

Close Up of Ashley Graham
Photo: Getty Images

Ashley Graham isn't focused on getting eight hours of sleep, working out for an hour every day, or even cultivating a work-life balance to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As a working mother to three young boys, she is the first to recognize that "balance is bullshit," she explains to Shape in a recent interview. The model understands that some areas of life get more of your time than others at certain moments, but two things she makes it a point to prioritize are joy and laughter. (

"We have a love of laughter in our home, and I think that laughter is the missing link when it comes to medicine and living a healthy lifestyle," she says. "Eating clean, healthy foods and moving my body and that kind of stuff seems secondary if you're living in a sad home or a stressful place. Joy and laughter are big deals in our family."

While the 34-year-old prioritizes joy and laughter in her day-to-day life, she isn't oblivious to the idea that emotions are fickle and ever-changing. It's even more important to create those joyous moments because emotions are constantly in flux, she says. "We're not happy all the time every day, but it's just like these little pockets of your day that you should hopefully be able to smile and just have a little joy and a little laughter."

Graham isn't far off when she says laughter is the best medicine. A big belly laugh has the ability to fire up your stress response, meaning it quickly increases and then decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a relaxed feeling, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can stimulate circulation and aid in muscle relaxation to reduce the physical symptoms of stress, reports the Mayo Clinic.Physiologically, laughter also releases endorphins, which are known as "feel-good hormones," and this can help ease pain, reduce stress, and improve mood, according to the Cleveland Clinic. (

The best way Graham implements joy into her life is by spending time with her kids, she says. "Being out in nature with them is just so much fun," says the model and entrepreneur. And while laughing and spending time with her children is one of the main ways Graham practices wellness, it doesn't mean she neglects other healthy habits, including working out. "Moving my body is a big deal," she says. Some of her favorite workouts right now are yoga, doing exercises with resistance bands with her trainer, rollerblading, and using Tonal (an at-home smart gym device) with her husband.

Now that she's "getting back into shape and working out," she says her Tonal was one of the best splurge-worthy things she's purchased using Affirm — a service she partnered with that allows you to buy stuff in the present and pay it off at your own pace without any late or hidden fees. "Why wait to spend money on gym gear?" she says.

Another thing that helps Graham feel her best is journaling, which she does when she's going through a stressful time. "I like this idea of getting things out of my body, because I feel like if I'm storing stress or anxiety, it's just going to stay, and it's going to grow," she says. "It's like popping a pimple; [you need to] get the pus out," she explains. Not only does journaling help her get clarity on situations and make "a bigger thing feel a lot smaller," but it also helps her alleviate stress, says Graham. (

So, the next time you're feeling particularly overwhelmed, take a page from Graham's book and trying moving your body, writing down how you're feeling, and if all else fails, try making yourself laugh.

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