Stress is said to be an epidemic in the modern era. This is probably the case because of our constant work, our deadlines, our troublesome family life, and more. Not only is stress pervasive, but it deals significant damage to us. But apparently, there is a simple solution to stress: laughing and/or enjoying humor. It is a natural method that can be used in almost any environment and almost at any time. Maintaining a sense of humor is one of the most essential factors in driving out stress. Humor allows us to reduce physical, mental, and psychological stress, to view situations from a different angle, and to increase our social interaction.
Commonly, an individual’s body is tense from stress. This is just a usual fact of modern life. According to Marcus Clarke BSc, MSc, “Humour affects the autonomic nervous system by encouraging laughter which causes the body to slip into deeper breathing. This in turn relaxes the body’s muscles and calms the sympathetic nervous system from the adrenalized ‘fight or flight’ response to the more sedate parasympathetic nervous system driven state of calm. Thus, humour physically relaxes away stress and anxiety” (Psychology of Humor). When the body is more relaxed, one’s mental state is also improved. So, humor can have an overall effect on the relaxation of an individual.
Problems can loom large in our minds if we perceive them as a dreadful. In this sense, we can say that mostly issues are developed mentally. However, with humor, we can see situations in a different light. According to broadcaster Allen Klein, “When we can find some humor in our upsets, they no longer seem as large or as important as they once did. Humor expands our limited picture frame and gets us to see more than just our problem. A sense of humor provides a new perspective on our situation” (The Perspective of Humor). As the saying goes, “attitude is everything.” If we change how we perceive problems with humor, the issues can disappear on their own.
Group laughter is an instance not to be missed. Many people feel that the best times in life is enjoying the company of friends, especially in laughter. According PsychAlive, “Dr. Dunbar describes social laughter as “grooming from a distance,” an activity that fosters closeness in a group the way one-way grooming, patting, and delousing promote and maintain bonds between individual primates of all kinds. Laughter contributes to group bonding, and may have been an important part in the evolution of highly social animals” (PsychAlive). So, in a sense, laughter might have been a way for us to develop from our distant primate cousins, and to engender a new type of social health.
But how do we maintain our sense of humor in such tense times? Based on the website Very Well Mind, we can start with these elements of our lives: smiling more often, taking time out during difficult situations, valuing extremes, having a funny friend, making stressful situations into a game, reading comedic books, joining clubs dedicated to humor, and finding common ground for laughter among friends (Scott, Elizabeth). There are many activities we can do to sustain our sense of humor, but these are the most common. Another such method is meditation. In meditation, we often find a distance between us and our stress, and the distance can create a greater sense of humor within us.
Stress is a malady of the modern world that must be dealt with in order for us to be in balance. Humor has been proposed as an effective remedy to stress, as it reduces physical and mental tension, allows us to have a positive perspective on difficult times, and ignites social activity that can make us feel more at peace. Humor is a free resource against stress that everyone should wield.
“5 Ways Humour Reduces Stress And Anxiety – Guest Article by Marcus Clarke | Psychology of Humor.” Psychology of Humor RSS2, www.psychologyofhumor.com/2017/04/19/5-ways-humour-reduces-stress-and-anxiety-guest-article-by-marcus-clarke/.
The Perspective of Humor by Allen Klein, www.allenklein.com/articles/perspect.htm.
PsychAlive. “Laugh It Up: Why Laughing Brings Us Closer Together.” PsychAlive, 23 Oct. 2013, www.psychalive.org/laugh-it-up-why-laughing-brings-us-closer-together/.
Scott, Elizabeth. “How To Laugh In The Face Of Stress.” Verywell Mind, Verywellmind, www.verywellmind.com/maintain-a-sense-of-humor-3144888.