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  • Humor as Self-Care During Pandemic

    The events of the past few months, COVID-19 and the protests, have triggered uncertainty about the future and caused significant increases in anxiety and fear. As we become progressively more stressed, our focus narrows until all we can think about is the event we are stressed out about. This single-mindedness further increases our level of tension and all that goes with it. One helpful way to manage this pressure is, quite simply, distraction. We need some positive event that shifts our focus from the stressor onto something more pleasant, if only for a moment. This allows us time to take a few relaxing breaths and helps alter our tension levels. Small breaks like this, even during challenging times, can lower our nervous system arousal.

    Many people find relief in humor. It is a simple, effective, low-cost method to reduce stress. It doesn’t even require a partner since there are funny shows, videos, and music that we can experience all by ourselves. If we see something really funny, we may even laugh. Laughter itself provides additional relief and a huge release of tension that can really help if we feel are feeling overwhelmed. Besides, humorous stories can help us realize that no matter how bad our situation is, there is always someone else who has it worse. It gives us new perspective and may remind us of the beauty of life, as the following quote illustrates:

    “A smile starts on the lips,
    a grin spreads to the eyes,
    a chuckle comes from the belly,
    but a good laugh bursts forth
    from the soul, overflows
    and bubbles all around.” – Carolyn Birmingham

    In other words, laughter is a huge distraction and triggers the release of neurochemicals that reduce the body’s heightened anxiety! It’s hard to feel sad or lonely in the midst of laughing. In light of humor as a form of self-care, here are a few of my favorite quotes about laughter.

    “I love people who make me laugh!” Audrey Hepburn

    “Laughter is an instant vacation!” Milton Berle

    “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” Mark Twain

    “Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or a sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.” John Cleese

    The quote by John Cleese indicates egalitarian aspects of humor because laughing together reduces boundaries and emphasizes connection among people. This is another benefit of laughter that we all sorely need during these stressful and divided times.

    Other benefits of laughter include both physiological and psychological advantages as shown by numerous research studies.

    The article, “Stress relief from Laughter? It’s no Joke!” from the Mayo Clinic, describes some of the short-term and long-term health benefits of laughter.

    The Chopra Center has several articles about laughter and its healing benefits emphasizing that the experience of laughter shifts our perspective and reminds us that there is more than one way to view the challenges in our lives. Being open to new experiences occurs as the result of looking at life in the predictable ways and seeing it in more colorful or offbeat ways.  The way we think about challenges in our life can determine whether or not we feel capable and prepared to face them. Read more about laughter here:

    Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review

    This academic article discusses more about the benefits of laughter and how Laughter Therapy is being used to teach skills such as purposefully generating the positive sensation and using it to reduce the impact of stress. The goal of using laughter in this way is to decrease stress-making hormones and improve an individual’s quality of life. Read more about it here:

    Physiological benefits of Laughter

    • Improves respiration
    • Stimulates circulation
    • Improves immune function
    • Decreases pain
    • Decreases stress hormones

    Psychological benefits of Laughter

    • Improve relationships
    • Reduces tension and anxiety
    • Promotes psychological well-being
    • Elevates mood and self-esteem
    • Enhances memory & problem solving
    • Improves sleep

    If you are not yet convinced about the value of laughter in soothing tension, read the following and be sure to observe how you are feeling when you’re done.

    Stay at Home Jokes! I’m sure we can all relate to many of them!

    Half of us are going to come out of this quarantine as amazing cooks. The other half will come out with a drinking problem.

    I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.

    I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.

    Still haven’t decided where to go for my birthday —– The Living Room or The Bedroom.

    PSA: every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well in the kingdom.

    Homeschooling is going well. 2 students suspended for fighting and 1 teacher fired for drinking on the job.

    I don’t think anyone expected that when we changed the clocks we’d go from Standard Time to the Twilight Zone.

    This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came into my house, told my dog….. we laughed a lot.

    So, after this quarantine…..will the producers of My 600 Pound Life just find me or do I find them?

    Quarantine Day 5: Went to this restaurant called THE KITCHEN. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have no clue how this place is still in business.

    My body has absorbed so much soap and disinfectant lately that when I pee it cleans the toilet.

    Day 5 of Homeschooling: One of these little monsters called in a bomb threat.

    I’m so excited — it’s time to take out the garbage. What should I wear?

    I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to Puerto Backyarda. I’m getting tired of Los Livingroom.

    Classified Ad: Single man with toilet paper seeks woman with hand sanitizer for good clean fun.

    Day 6 of Homeschooling: My child just said “I hope I don’t have the same teacher next year”…. I’m offended.

    Hopefully, some of these jokes made you laugh. Notice if you are feeling any differently now than you were before you read this article.

    Remember the following:

    “It’s impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either.” – Wayne Dyer