4 Reasons to Keep Laughing (Instead of Crying) – HumoUr is a powerful and overlooked tool for coping with today’s challenges

4 Reasons to Keep Laughing (Instead of Crying) – HumoUr is a powerful and overlooked tool for coping with today’s challenges

via Psychology Today by Jonathan Stevens

People all over the world have been affected by COVID-19 in some way. Our normal routines have been shattered. Washing our hands, keeping a safe physical distance, and worrying about contracting or spreading the virus is our new norm.

There are people amongst us who have lost their jobs and incomes, and unfortunately for some, their loved ones. Humor or laughter is probably the last thing on their mind.

So, this begs the question: During these difficult and challenging times, is it OK to laugh?

Absolutely! As a psychiatrist who works with patients and who has personally experienced traumatic events, I actively look for opportunities to interject appropriate humor into daily life. Consider these four ways that humor can be a powerful and effective tool in coping with today’s challenges.

1. Social Benefits and Connectedness

We are all social beings. Our ability to connect with one another ensured our survival, from an evolutionary perspective. Social isolation due to “stay-at-home orders” has resulted in many people feeling lonely and alone. This is especially hard for individuals with pre-existing mental health issues.

With technology, though, we can try to “virtually” connect with one another. When we share, we feel accepted and connected to one another. We can share a funny video or story, humorous anecdotes, and smiles. I remember when someone shared with me the image of someone holding a bouquet made out of toilet paper, rather than flowers, poking fun at the amount of toilet paper people were buying.

2. Stress Reduction and Physical Health Benefits

We all know that stress is hazardous to our health. It may lead to cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension and heart attacks, and mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Numerous studies show the benefits of laughter in combating stress. Laughter reduces physical tension and stress by relaxing our muscles, as well as decreasing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

For individuals with underlying medical conditions, humor and laughter may provide some extra protection. By dilating blood vessels, it lowers blood pressure, reducing the risk for heart attacks and strokes. Our immune system also gets a boost by increasing the production of T cells ready to fight infections. A 15-year follow-up study from Norway showed the death rates from infection were actually lower in patients who utilized humor. Even though not a replacement for physical exercise, when I laugh extra hard, I feel as if I just had an abdominal muscle workout!

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

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