Stress is a Laughing Matter

by stresswinner on December 23, 2009

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh!” William James

Laughter is great stress medicine. Like intense exercise, it increases brain levels of calming substances such as serotonin and endorphins – it’s natural Prozac! Feeling tense and uptight? Hold the valium, start laughing really hard and feel your body become so limp you might have to sit down. Kids laugh about 100 times a day, adults laugh much less – so lets take a lesson from them!
Severely depressed people feel not only sad but profoundly hopeless, so stressed that suicide starts to look attractive. But if they can somehow laugh, a ray of hope pierces the depression: “Laughter takes you from moping – to hoping – to coping”.

Here are three ways to make humour a potent weapon against stress:

  1. Look for the humour in every situation;
  2. Tell more jokes, and
  3. Simply smile more and laugh out loud periodically – especially if life doesn’t seem that funny!

Look closely, and you’ll see that all high-pressure jobs, difficult people or awkward situations have much that’s funny or ridiculous about them. Think of something that usually upsets you – a traffic jam, or dealing with a really difficult relative – then imagine how your favourite comedian would turn it around and get a huge laugh. Turn on a mental comedy tape, imagine that obnoxious person on the toilet, in the nude, or making a fool of themselves. A stressful situation coming up? Think of some humorous responses and keep them always at the ready.

Put more laughter in your life: select funny books, tapes and movies; keep joke boards posted at home and work; collect jokes and memorize them. When joking, joke with the person, remember, ridiculing or racial jokes create an unhealthy, negative atmosphere. When in doubt – tell a joke on yourself, most people take themselves and their troubles far too seriously -especially as it was mostly our choices that resulted in out problems in the first place!. It’s been said that “If you can laugh at yourself, you’ll never cease to be amused”. The trick is: take ourselves lightly, but our work and responsibilities seriously.

Lighten up the daily routine occasionally! Have pizza and ice-cream for breakfast; make a camp in your living room with blankets; grab a pair of Groucho spectacles or a clown nose when someone’s being way too serious.

Are you frowning too much in these stressful times? Then LAUGH MORE. It’s no big deal – see how you feel – it starts out fake and ends up real! Too shy? Start with just smiling more and practice – go to a mirror and frown with your mouth wide open, remember a laugh is a smile that bursts! A doctor in India holds regular sessions of public laughter, and attendance is growing. So even if there’s nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit. Laughter is infectious – spread it around! The reality is that we all face anxiety, depression, illness, loss, and death, each having the power to remove happiness from our lives. But that power can be stripped away by laughter and a humourous outlook, which give us control over the way we experience that reality.

“A sense of humour can help you overlook the unattractive, tolerate the unpleasant, cope with the unexpected, and smile through the unbearable”. – Moshe Waldoks.

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