- Studies show that humor has the power to reduce fear and anxiety, resolve conflicts, and help weather disappointments.
- If you laugh 30 minutes a day your life will be extended by 8 years
- There are many ways to find humor and keep your spirits up during these challenging times.
Research shows that having a good laugh is not only good for your soul, but it turns out it can lead to a longer life and a better career. We are born with laughter but have to create happiness in our lives.
We’ve all heard the popular saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” But does that type of thinking apply to something as serious as a global pandemic? Most psychologists would say yes. Humor helps people take back their sense of power in a powerless situation and it helps them connect with others.
A study out of Norway followed 53,556 people for 15 years and found that those with a sense of humor lied an average of 8 years longer than those who didn’t. Women studied who were high on the humor scores showed 48 % less risk of death from all causes, a 73% lower risk of death from heart disease and 83% lower risk of death from infection. Men who were studied found only for the risk of death from infection – those with high humor scores had a 74% reduced risk. The gender differences could be due to a slight decline in humor scores as the men aged, the authors suggest. Although there is a genetic component that determines sense of humor, it is also developed through socialization. The pandemic is inhibiting and prohibiting socialization in many peoples lives.
We need humor more than ever during this global pandemic; the shift to remote working, loneliness, and depression rising precipitously and many of us feel disconnected. Laughing sends a cocktail of hormones that strengthen our emotional bonds in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Laughing strengthens our resilience, creativity and resourcefulness according to research.
Our loneliness has become as crushing as the pandemic itself, threatening to overwhelm people every day. Clearly, we need something to lighten the stress load we’re all experiencing. And humor could be just what the doctor ordered.
How People Benefit From Laughing
Obviously, the seriousness of COVID-19 and the variances is no laughing matter. People are dying every day, and those in the medical field are being stretched beyond what any person should have to bear. But we all need to find a way to cope with the dangers and limitations we’re facing—or risk serious mental health consequences.
One of our answers is laughter.
- Laughter activates important feel-good hormones in the brain, while also reducing stress-related hormones like cortisol.
- Laughter also increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working in our bodies. And it enhances our T-cells, which are at the core of adaptive immunity and help tailor our immune response. All of this equates to a stronger immune system.
- Research also indicates that humor benefits a person’s physical and psychological state. Studies show that humor has the ability to provide pain relief, improve positive emotions, regulate stress, disengage from distress, and improve interpersonal communications. According to the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor, people experience a 39% reduction in stress just by anticipating humor.
- There also is a physical release that comes through laughter—it’s a cleansing sort of feeling that impacts us both physically and emotionally. Most people feel really good after laughing, reporting that they feel like a weight has been lifted. And at a time when so much is weighing us down, it can be very therapeutic to engage in some good natured humor.
How to Improve Your Psycholoical Well-Being During this Crisis
Ways to Add Humor to Your Life
Laughter is a free and easy stress management tool that can be used by just about anyone to lighten mood and improve mental health.
Here are some ways to add a little humor into your life during this challenging time.
- Subscribe to Funny YouTube Channels
There’s nothing funnier than watching goofy pet, baby, or laughing videos. Even if you’re feeling a little down and want a good laugh, just log onto YouTube and search “popular comedy” or “funny videos.” You’re bound to find something that will make you laugh.
- Watch Comedians Online
Countless numbers of comedians are offering their comedy routines online. Even with social distancing measures in place, many are still putting out new material.
All the regulars, like Jimmy Fallon, Steven Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel, are producing regular material that is readily available. Simply do a quick search to find the latest material or watch some older versions. And let’s not forget about the copious amounts of content available on Hulu, HBO, and Netflix. Just head over to the comedy section and laugh until your sides hurt.
- Share Old Stories
Nothing’s better than sharing stories about funnier times. Whether you’re on Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime, it’s fun to remember the old days and laugh about the silly things you did. Sharing old stories together helps strengthen bonds and reminds you of how much you have to be thankful for.
- Tell Jokes
There’s nothing better than “Dad jokes.” They are so silly and cringe-worthy that they are bound to make you laugh. If you want to crack up your kids or make your co-workers giggle during the next Zoom meeting, do a quick search of Dad jokes and see what you can come up with. Find old comedian’s and their jokes and/or watch old reruns of Candid Camera, etc.
Or have a contest among your family members to see who can tell the best joke each night at dinner. A good pun is also always a solid way to make someone smile.
- Play Games
If you’re staying at home with family members, try playing a fun board game together. It doesn’t take long for everyone to forget about the stresses of everyday life when you’re engaged in a game of Loaded Questions. Even strategy games like Monopoly and Sequence can lighten a dull mood and bring a little laughter into your home. Put a badminton set out in the back yard or a boche ball game, croquet, etc. and have fun with the family.
If you happen to be sequestered alone, try organizing an online game party. For instance, Jackbox Games offers a wide variety of digital platforms that people can purchase and download games to play remotely. Then, they can set up game parties with as many as eight people.
- Laugh at Yourself
There are lots of things you’re probably doing that if you stepped back and really looked at them, you would find they are actually quite funny. Maybe it’s the way your face mask makes your hair stick out on the sides. Or maybe it’s the fact that you walked past your partner’s Zoom meeting in your pajamas. Or, it could be the fact that everyone does silly things. The key is to laugh at yourself a little bit. When you laugh, others take it as a cue to laugh as well.
- Create or Watch TikTok Videos
TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps out there. And during this pandemic, people are taking to it in droves creating their own funny takes on everything from staying at home to the toilet paper shortage.
TikTok has created donation stickers that allow online creators to raise money for coronavirus relief efforts. And even those in the medical field are using the app to get important information to younger users. So if you’ve got a few extra minutes and want a good laugh, download the app.
- What This Means For You
Humor is mankind’s built-in coping mechanism. It distracts us from the difficulty of the situation we are living in and allows us to release some built-up tension. It’s a type of mental armor that allows us to manage the unmanageable.
So, go ahead and laugh at those funny pet videos or turn on a rerun of America’s Funniest Home Videos. A good, solid belly laugh may be exactly what you need to lighten the mood, relieve some stress, and feel better overall.
The brain does not know the difference between fake laughter and real laughter. It will release the same chemicals/hormones either way so if you don’t find anything to laugh about – just do a fake hee hee, hoo hoo, haa haa and you’ll reap the benefits of laughter which are so needed right now to deal with our mental and physical health due to covid restrictions and changes in our lives.
Remember that “funny or die” is not just a saying but true. Embrace the “funny” and “humorous” around us and laugh lots and live longer.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Nurses Health Study
Normative Aging Study
Harvard Medical School Study
American Journal of Medicine