In these testing times we’re growing weary. A telltale sign? Our loss of humour. When the pandemic began, a virtual “pundemic” was unleashed. Social media was awash with memes about toilet paper and working from home. Now, several months later, with much of Victoria still locked down and the economy in recession, the collective pulse of joy is simmering.
It’s only human to feel a little glum from time to time but maintaining a humorous outlook in stressful or adverse situations is something we can’t afford to lose. Whilst all might not be perfect in our external world, much freedom lies in how we respond. Seriosity might appear a more appropriate response to our upended world, yet humour, laughter and playfulness help foster resilience, providing a coping strategy to help better manage and reduce stress.
Cultivating a humour or laughter mindset, where we choose to empower the light within, is an important tool to build connection and gain some mastery over things we can’t control. It’s linked to positive psychological wellbeing and resilience, satisfaction with life, and an optimistic outlook.
When we laugh or smile about something, the mind is anchored to a moment of positivity. Negativity in the shape of fear, depression or anxiety has no footing. Learning to laugh at yourself, reframing stressful situations with more levity, or finding the funny in a stressful situation develops personal resilience. It demonstrates there’s another way to respond to adversity or stress.
Humour, which often results in laughter, lightens your mental load by creating a shift in mood. This leads to a range of physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and quality-of-life benefits. Laughter, anecdotally acknowledged as “the best medicine”, improves heart health and reduces blood pressure, stimulates circulation and aids muscle relaxation, helping reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. Laughter enhances oxygen intake, and releases endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers. When shared laughter bonds and connects, no matter our mother tongue or ethnicity. As Laughter Yoga Founder, Dr Madan Kataria says, “Laughter doesn’t necessarily solve a problem but it helps dissolve it.”
So how can we reconnect to our laughter self? How can we cultivate a more positive or optimistic internal environment? Take a break from the news and immerse yourself in a sit-com or comedy. Wherever possible choose to spend time (virtual and real) with people that buoy your spirits and make you smile and laugh. Build your humour capacity by finding and sharing the funny at meal times with household members.
The more we train our humour muscle, the stronger our neural pathways towards positivity and humour become, so in the future we’ll have expanded our resources to respond with more levity.
Let’s ensure we empower our sixth sense: Humour. Whilst it can’t physically embrace you like a hug, it can guide and uplift you through unsettling times.
In love and laughter,