Laughter is medicine

A recent article from Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) titled, Laughter Leaves Me Lighter, provides some evidence for the benefits of laughter in coping with stress such as COVID-19 as well as some strategies to make this work.  Following are the highlights:

  • Humor help us cope and we can actively increase the humor in our lives to increase our well-being; in multiple studies across cultures, higher levels of humor correlate with more well-being, and less depression, anxiety, and negative emotions
  • Friendships and social connection development are essential for our sanity and fundamental for combating the negative health effects of loneliness and social isolation: boost coping, well-being and social bonding
  • Not all humor is helpful, a high level of tact, sensitivity, and consideration is called for when using humor; Primum non nocere applies, i.e., nothing that is insulting, sarcastic, self-defeating or self-deprecating, or demeaning to any individual or group
  • Simple and effective ways to boost humor in your life:
    • Watch a funny movie or sitcom
    • Approximately 70% of humor occurs spontaneously in everyday life so with a focus on that:
      • Humor Awareness: To increased your humor awareness write down the 3 funniest things you experience during the day and your feelings during these experiences – tracking an recording humor helps nudge humor to a higher place on one’s radar:
        • More likely to add some fun to texts, emails, and daily conversations
        • Re-experience your humor in writing it down – ‘humor boomerang’
        • When it’s difficult to find the three funniest things this can motivate you to find more humor the next day
  • Like a muscle, humor gets stronger the more it’s used:
    • Let the tears flow
    • Carry a double dose of it in your pocket
    • Share the playful sparks
    • Let the smiles spread