7 ways to use humor for wellbeing, backed by experts

IIt’s not uncommon for people to notice how good they feel after laughing. Laughter can, anecdotally, lift people’s moods, fill them with joy, and even hurt their abs (in a good way). Indeed, it turns out that laughter really is a powerful kind of medicine, according to research and expert insights. So it stands to reason that applying humor for well-being is something anyone could benefit from by learning a thing or two.

According to psychologist Selena Snow, PhD, using humor to shed light on tough times — like, uh, living amid the pandemic — can help lower your stress levels. This is because laughter is associated with lower levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Laughter is also linked to the release of endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals in your brain, which can help reduce pain and stress. Since stress is linked to longevity-compromising conditions, especially when it comes to heart and brain health, using humor as a wellness strategy is not overkill at all. “Laughter can be a way to lighten up a difficult time and can be a great coping mechanism for difficulties,” says Dr. Snow.

“Laughter can be a way to lighten up a difficult time and can be a great coping mechanism for difficulties.” —psychologist Selena Snow, PhD

Joy strategist Grace Harry adds that the connection between humor and well-being reflects the idea that when people consciously choose their emotional state, they also change their focus. With that in mind, while laughing facilitates happiness, having a sense of humor opens up the possibility of intentionally moving from a place of negativity to a place of positivity. If someone can devote energy to something troubling, Harry says, that same someone can also consciously shed light on situations through humor.

But, when you’re in the midst of a bad mood or emotionally trying situation, finding the energy or ways to flex your humor muscles is easier said than done. Read on to learn eight strategies Harry and Dr. Snow recommend people have for finding humor in the midst of not-so-easy times.

7 tips for using humor for well-being, like when you’re in dark times

1. List 1,000 things you are grateful for

It might sound like overkill, but that’s exactly why it works as a tip for using humor for well-being. Using this technique, you are reminded of how much beauty there is in your life and, Harry adds, at some point you will stop sweating the small stuff and start laughing about it.

“When you get to about a hundred, you have to start laughing at yourself,” she says. “You’re laughing at yourself for having to go through this ridiculous exercise” to remember your blessings.

2. Wear silly accessories

“Accessories are always the answer,” says Harry. During the pandemic lockdown days, Harry sourced wigs, clumsy glasses and multicolored light bulbs to make himself and his surroundings see funny.

3. Watch something fun

“Activities like watching funny movies or videos can help lift our mood,” says Dr. Snow, because they make people laugh. Whether it’s watching your favorite sitcom, a comedy movie, or hilarious videos from TikTok, access to humorous content can help lift you out of a not-so-great place, whether it’s by making you laugh or just getting you hooked. entertaining.

4. Spend time with people you know who like to laugh.

“Laughter is contagious, so look for other people who like to laugh and find humor in situations, and you might find yourself laughing alongside them,” says Dr. Snow. When you laugh with others about the ideal circumstances life throws at you, problems may not seem as dire as you initially thought, adds Dr. Snow.

5. Crack a smile

According to Dr. Snow, smiling offers similar health benefits to its more audible cousin, laughter. “If we strain to smile when we don’t really want to, we are still stimulating the zygomaticus major muscle which will cause the release of endorphins and improve our mood,” says Dr. Snow. (For reference, the zygomatic major muscle is a thin facial muscle that extends from the lower corner of your lip to the apple of your cheeks.)

6. Create a playlist

When creating a playlist that appeals to your sense of humor, Harry says it would be wise to choose something that makes you laugh, makes you feel good, or “reminds you that there are cycles. of life”. Maybe you’ll include some stand-up routines from your favorite comedian, or add a song that has a fond memory, or consider listening The Well+Good Podcastwhich falls squarely into the “makes you feel good” category.

7. Make a fort, like when you were a kid

Besides providing a great chance to engage your inner child (which can help you heal past wounds), making a fort also gives you shelter from the components of the outside world that feed your stress. Once you’re there, you can chat with your “fort-mates” or play games with them to bring some joy into the stressful time of your life.

Whatever humor-boosting tactic you use, however, Dr Snow says the most important thing is that it happens: “Being able to laugh at difficulties can help us regain our perspective and consider alternatives. to our original thoughts and plans.”

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