You’ve probably heard the phrase before: laughter is the best medicine. While it may not be the cure for any disease, it helps relieve some of the pain that can come with them. This includes the pain that can come with mental illness as well. There have been studies that have shown that laughing and humor can decrease stress hormones, and by helping to produce a more comfortable environment, can ease anxieties and help those who struggle in social settings feel more at ease. It has also been shown to help with self-esteem and motivation as well.
If you’re a student, humor in the classroom can help you be more productive and be a better learner too. A teacher using humor can help build their relationship with their students and have them feel comforted by the fact that teachers can mistakes too, and it can also be used as a tool to enhance participation and class involvement, helping those who may be more introverted speak up more.
Laughing itself can have a positive effect on the brain and your physical health too. Laughter can produce endorphins and can have an influence on blood pressure, heart rate, and physical temperature.
Comedy takes form in many different ways: stand-up, gags, puns, sitcoms, and so on. People can use humor as a way of coping, such as twisting a potentially embarrassing situation to work in their favor, or by finding comedians who have gone through similar experiences as them and tell the stories in a way that they can relate to.
Even if you don’t like to make jokes or produce comedy yourself, you can still engage in funny situations to help ease stressors and feel better. Watching TV shows or Netflix comedy specials that are similar to your sense of humor can help you feel better, or even looking up memes and Vine compilations online can provide some comfort. If you’re sarcastic, you may enjoy more British humor, while those who like puns have a lot of options to find “dad jokes” online.
What’s important to remember, however, is that not all types of humor are created equal. Some kinds of humor can actually make you feel worse about yourself. This includes self-deprecating humor, the type where you make fun of yourself. Pointing out these flaws about yourself may seem like a way of coping at first, but it can still stay with you and remind you of the negative things you view about yourself. Other types of humor may come at the expense of others, which have been shown to decrease social support and can further distance groups that are already marginalized.
Not only do humor and laughing have an effect on your mental health and how comfortable you feel in a situation, but when done right, it’s fun. What’s better than witnessing the antics of others or hearing a really funny story, or being around people that make you laugh so hard that your cheeks start to hurt?
Do you like comedy? What are your favorite types? Do you have any shows, movies, or stand-up comics that you recommend?