Using humor is a positive way to cope with stress, and happens to be one of my favorite ways. Norman Cousins in his book, Anatomy of an Illness, chronicled how he turned around his disease through the use of humor and laughter. Comic relief and using humor is a defense mechanism that reduces pain while increasing pleasure. When we engage in laughter there is a physiological mind-body response, which promotes well-being and possibly healing. While having a good laugh won’t cure all ailments, research and data is mounting to show that laughter can have some very beneficial short term and long term effects for your health.
Some short term physical effects from laughter include:
Stimulating the heart, lungs, and muscles by increasing the intake of oxygen-rich air increasing the amount of endorphins (the feel good hormone) released from the brain.
Creating a deep relaxed feeling by activating and then relieving the stress response system.
Increasing circulation which aides in muscles relaxation thereby soothing tension created by stress.
Long term physical effects from laughter include:
Increasing positive thought which in turn produces neuropeptides that fight stress within the body,
Decrease of pain since laughter causes the body to produce its own form of natural painkillers.
Easing of depression and anxiety by improving your mood.
Increasing personal satisfaction by making it easier to deal with difficult situations.
So how does one go about using humor to relieve stress? There are several ways in which to incorporate more humor into one’s day. The following are just a handful of ideas and activities that you can engage in.
Smile Yes, it can be that simple. Just by putting a smile on your face, studies show that your body will release endorphins, which make you feel happy. Even if you have to fake the smile the physical results will be genuine.
Tickler Time Find some comic strips, photos, or greeting cards that make you laugh and hang them up in your office, on your computer, or on your refrigerator. Subscribe to Facebook groups that have humor as a theme so as to see funny posts and jokes. Create a Tickler Notebook, a collection of funny pictures etc. that you can browse through when needing a good laugh.
Funny Friend Laughter is so wonderful when shared with a friend. Find a friend who can laugh with you over the silly stuff that seems to happen. Friends can often give a different perspective on situations pointing out the “funny” in a usually annoying situation. Perhaps you have a friend that enjoys knock knock jokes, or puns that you can trade laughs back and forth in such a manner.
Reframe It Sometimes we need to take a step back from frustrating and annoying situations we are involved with to get a more objective view and take. By doing so, recognizing what is possibly humorous in the situation is easier. Reframing is a technique that can be used in many situations in the work place and at home.
Listen and Watch Find a funny TV show or movie to watch. If you spend a good deal amount of time in the car, download routines of stand up comics to listen to while driving. There are also radio stations shows that are devoted to comedy that you can listen to as well.
Bringing more humor and laughter into your day and life can only help you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good. After all - laughter is the best medicine!
Lisa Huppert is a gifted Psychic Medium, Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Healer and Master Teacher, Tibetan Bowl Sound Healer, writer, and multimedia artist. She holds a MA in Integrated Health and Healing from The Graduate Institute, a MS in Language Arts, as well as BS in Special Education & Elementary Education. Lisa is a certified Holistic Stress Management Instructor as well as a SoulCollage® facilitator. She is co-owner of Serenity Grove Wellness Center, LLC.