Mental Health Awareness Month: Finding the Humor in Life

Finding humor in the circumstances of life can lift moods with laughter and help people to better deal with and overcome difficult experiences.

Hormones produces by stress can do a lot of damage to the mind and body over time. Since humor and laughter reduce the amounts of these hormones, it has been shown that they can help reduce the risk of blood clots, heart conditions, and other stress-related diseases.[1]

When you incorporate humor into your life, you are likely to see many benefits, including a stronger immune system, improved mood and anxiety relief,[2] better interactions with others,[3] and less burnout on the job.[4]

When you laugh, your body:

  • Decreases stress hormone levels[5]
  • Stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles[6]
  • Increases activity in the brain’s reward system
  • Releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain blockers[7]

10 Ways to Incorporate Humor into Your Life, suggested by Mental Health America

  1. List three funny thing that happened to you each day.
  2. Find a tv show or movie that tickles your funny bone!
  3. Watch stand-up comedy. It can be on television, a streaming service online, or even in person!
  4. Reach out to someone who gets your sense of humor.
  5. Go online and seek out comics, memes, YouTube videos, or blogs. Take 15 minutes to check it out and laugh or smile.
  6. Have a game night! Some newer card and board games are designed with humor in mind, like Monikers, which puts a new twist on the classic Charades.
  7. Try laughter yoga.
  8. Read a funny book.
  9. Spend time with an animal or child. Their antics are almost always good for a laugh!
  10. Incorporate funny things into your environment. Maybe it’s a goofy photo by your mirror or a page-a-day calendar with a comic.

[1] Hayashi K, Kawachi I, Ohira T, Kondo K, Shirai K, Kondo N. (2016). Laughter is the best medicine? A cross-sectional study of cardiovascular disease among older Japanese adults. Journal of Epidemiology. 26: 546–552.

[2] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456.

[3] Gelkopf M. (2011). The use of humor in serious mental illness: a review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM, 2011, 342837.

[4] Sliter M, Kale A, Yuan Z. (2014). Is humor the best medicine? The buffering effect of coping humor on traumatic stressors in firefighters. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 35(2):257-272.

[5]JongEun Yim. (2016). Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine. 239(3): 243-249.

[6]https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456.

[7]Mobbs D, Greicius MD, Abdel-Azim E, Menon V, Reiss AL.(2003). Humor Modulates the Mesolimbic Reward Centers. Neuron. 40(5): 1041- 1048. 0