It's been said that laughter is the best medicine. Now more than ever, laughter and a positive attitude are crucial for living through uncertain times as we navigate our recovery.
Many people experience increased anxiety and symptoms of depression at times when it feels as if the world is turned upside down. Laughter can help stave off depression and anxiety during such times.
How Does Laughter Help?
According to a recent study, humor and laughter may protect against symptoms of depression and anxiety. Laughter is especially important during times of crisis. In addition to providing a distraction, it can help shift our focus to the positive elements of our situation. It may help you find the silver linings.
This new study expands on existing research seeking to understand if humor can help shield people against mental health issues. It focused on what the researchers classified as "positive humor" which includes making jokes others will appreciate and finding humor in your own circumstances to make yourself feel better.
The authors of this study concluded that using positive humor is associated with increased optimism and lowered levels of anxiety and depression. They agree that "humor is a tool of everyday life and it can act for or against an individual’s mental health."
Health Benefits Of Laughter
Additional research published in Psychology Today suggests that laughter may also boost physical health, learning, and memory. Other healthy side effects of laughter include:
- Lowering stress and inflammation
- Increasing good (HDL) cholesterol
- Releasing endorphins in the brain
- Enhancing mood
- Reducing stress hormonal levels
- Improving memory and focus
- Cultivating interactions and communication with others
- Strengthening immune function
Humor Eases Tension In Tough Times
But what if we are so buried in our current circumstances and don't feel like laughing? What if we can't find any humor in life right now? This may be the time when we need laughter the most.
Of course, if you are finding daily life increasingly difficult or struggling with the onset of depression or relapse, you may need the assistance of a professional. Many counseling offices and therapists are now offering video or phone appointments if you're unable or don't feel comfortable leaving your home.
Prescription For Laughter
We may be unable to get together in person right now to share laughs with friends or loved ones, but luckily technology provides some clever ways to experience togetherness.
Now is a great time to check out some humor-filled podcasts and get your fill of laughter for the day or relax and read some funny books. A simple phone call or texting with friends is another way to feel connected and reminisce about the fun times you had together.
Anu Saari, the founder of Skype Laughter Club (fun and free way to laugh online) writes on her website, "When you have a day that laughing alone is hard and you can’t get it going and you find all the excuses not to laugh a regular session on Skype helps."
Laughter truly is contagious and just may be the best medicine for what ails you. You can find ways to laugh at life and yourself even during hard times.