Submitted by Alison Allen
I think you all might like my coping tip this week. We all kind of know it’s good for us, but you may be surprised at just how good it is. It can singlehandedly reduce stress, increase a feeling of wellbeing, stimulate your internal organs, boost endorphins, strengthen your immune system and even relieve pain. And it’s legal! And it isn’t even vegetables, or exercise!
So what is this miraculous intervention? Laughter! Laughter does all the great stuff listed above, in really interesting ways. It sort of “massages” our nervous systems, boosting and then reducing stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate, leading to that nice relaxed feeling after a really good laugh. It can improve circulation and relax muscles.
Laughter also helps us cope with difficult situations by lending perspective, enhancing wellbeing and boosting our feeling of connection when we laugh together with others. Think, for instance, of how it often goes at wakes and funerals. We gather, we remember, we cry, and then we start telling stories, sharing memories, often humorous ones. We laugh, together, and in that shared laughter we can feel ourselves connect and our pain eases.
And it doesn’t always have to be deep. Think of listening to a stand-up comedian; often it’s the laughter of the people around us that really boosts our own laughter. We find things funnier when we share them. So, gathering up at a comedy club is really not recommended just yet, but maybe ask that smart speaker of yours to play some stand up from one of your favorite comedians. Bonus points if you get someone else to listen and laugh along with you. Tell a joke! Read the funnies. Pro tip: Laughter is catching. If you’re not feeling it, but you want to, you cannot go wrong by googling “baby laughing.” Try it! You’ll see what I mean. And, you’ll feel better.
Alison Allen is NorthLakes Chief Behavioral Health Officer