Humour is a huge part of the world and is part of many of our human interactions. We like to laugh and it feels good. This article will inform you of the scientific reasons it’s healthy and will look at ways we can incorporate this into our lives to help with our sense of wellbeing. Knowing there’s science behind our actions helps us to do it more. For example, knowing that exercise is good for us helps motivate our gym attendance.
Incorporating humour into our lives or seeing the lighter or funnier side of life isn’t always easy. Stress and low mood as well as feeling physically ill can stop us from engaging in this vital part of us.
Laughter is good for us as it releases endorphins that help us to feel good. It also reduces the release of the stress hormones cortisol which reduces our ability to feel frustrated, anxious and out of control. Studies show that it improves self-esteem, brain functioning and our social world.
When we’re with others and laughing, the act of doing this unconsciously allows us to feel more accepted by others and encourages us just to be ourselves. This reinforces our identity and self-assurance and helps us to feel ok being ourselves. When we’re less stressed, our mind is freer to function creatively and intellectually. Also, when we laugh we activate parts of the brain that are linked to joy and happiness. When these areas are active, the parts responsible for anxiety and worry such as the amygdala cannot be activated at the same time. Laughter can alter dopamine and serotonin activity – these are the hormones that make us feel good. Adversely, these hormones are reduced when we feel low or depressed.
So, we have established that humour and laughter is good and helps us. Engaging with it and feeling it can be a wholly different matter. So, if you’re finding it hard, What can you do? What can you do engage in laughter and humour when you’re just not in that place?
There are a number of suggestions below, but it’s essential to be aware that sometimes we just can’t engage in this part of us and that’s ok. It’s ok to feel and be as we are. If humour isn’t a big part of your life and you would like it to be, this is likely to be a process rather than a rapid jump, therefore, please have patience with yourself as you persevere.
1 – Surround yourself with friends
2 – Engage in conversation – humour often arises
3 – Watch things that makes your laugh or engage your humour. This could be from sit-com’s to films to stand-up comedy. Who’s your favourite comedian or what film would make you laugh?
4- Fake it until you make it! I’m not a fan of anything fake or putting things on, however, neurological research finds that if we fake a laugh out loud, it activates the hippocampus areas responsible for joy and we actually begin to feel better. I would invite you to experiment with this with an open mind.
5 – Play fun games
6 – Read something funny such as a book or a comic strip
7 – Focus on your pet or get a pet. Pets do the daftest of things and they also help us raise our mood. Click here to read why Pets are good for our health.
8 – Learn to laugh at yourself. We do the most absurd things and can be contradictory and that’s funny, if we allow ourselves to see or feel it that way.
Personally, being with friends and standup comedy are in my top 5 things that create most humour for me.
What makes you laugh? Please comment 1 thing (however bizarre) that makes you giggle.