The 2020s have not been the most pleasant decade. In just a few years, we’ve experienced a deadly pandemic, economic turmoil, international wars and apocalyptic natural disasters. This negative news is our reality, and there is no denying that it can feel a bit heavy at times. Therefore, it is important to lighten the mood sometimes and have a laugh.
Pew Research reports that as of 2022, at least 41% of American adults have felt high levels of psychological distress at some point within the last few years. We all face these issues at some point or another, so it’s important to have strategies to deal with them. Comedy and laughter can serve as an accessible and effective way to do just that.
Comedy is a great outlet for relieving stress, improving your mental health and even prolonging your life. According to the Cleveland Clinic, long-term activation of your stress system has serious health implications, like an increased risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer and a variety of other illnesses. Finding time to laugh greatly decreases stress levels and increases overall joy.
Laughter can be equally good for your heart. The Cleveland Clinic also found that laughter can decrease stress hormones, reduce artery inflammation and increase good cholesterol levels. This in turn increases blood flow, improves blood vessel health and reduces the risk of a heart attack. Just imagine how much healthier you could be if this occurred on a regular basis.
Another collection of studies posted in The Harvard Gazette measured the impact of hospital clowns on more than 1,600 children and adolescents suffering an array of symptoms including anxiety, pain, stress, cancer-related fatigue and crying. The research found that children exposed to the clowns were significantly less anxious during subsequent medical procedures. The results were comparable with or without the parents in the room during the procedures.
There is actually a clinical treatment involving laughter known as “laughter therapy.” According to a study posted in the National Library of Medicine medical journal, laughter therapy is a more controlled way of using laughter to improve overall well-being. It is often used on patients who have suffered at the hands of severe diseases or trauma. This can be an effective alternative to medications prescribed by a doctor.
Even though the data clearly shows that laughter is good for your body and brain, it can be difficult to laugh during hard times. Whether it’s the depressing news cycle, your job or school that’s bringing you down, these obstacles can make laughter seem like an afterthought.
If you are in this situation, there are still ways you can push yourself through the gloom and get in a laugh or two. The easiest way is to hang out with friends or family who make you laugh. Another way would be to go see a good comedy movie, television show or comedy special.
Even more importantly, if you are in high spirits and your friends or loved ones are not, give them a good laugh. Bringing positivity and comedy into your conversations will make you universally happier, healthier and more liked overall. It’s also great to find what kind of sense of humor you have and what you find funny. This will maximize your ability to lighten up.
Comedy can even be used as a way to cope with horrible occurrences in our lives or things that are making us worry, to a certain degree. This is why political satire and such can be cathartic and make us all feel a little better about the world. Additionally, if something is upsetting you, sometimes it’s better to laugh it off and move on.
Comedy and laughter are not the magic fix to everything that is wrong in the world or your life, but it is clear that they make the world a better and healthier place to live in. If we all took the effort to seek out some laughter or to spread some to others, our overall happiness would drastically improve. So, go watch something funny. Go tell somebody a funny joke. In the end, your mind and your body will thank you.