You may be in a funk because of the coronavirus, but, according to Certified Humor Therapist and Laughter for the Health of It presenter Roberta Gold, there’s no situation so dire you can’t find something funny in it.
Maybe while self-quarantining you’re passing the time alphabetizing your spices. Maybe you’re obsessively watching YouTube tutorials on converting cat food tins to candle holders. Or maybe, like me, you’re manically cleaning out your garage, a chore I’d expertly managed to avoid for over a decade.
See, you’re laughing already! The tension is flowing out of you and you feel better able to cope. According to Roberta, “Seeing the funny side makes one more optimistic and helps create a positive mindset.”
Roberta Gold is a member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. This organization defines therapeutic humor as “any intervention that promotes health and wellness by stimulating a playful discovery, expression, or appreciation of the absurdity or incongruity of life’s situations.”
Roberta says life is an attitude and she is an attitude adjustment coach. “Although we can often neither change a situation we find ourselves in, nor can we change another person’s behavior, we have complete control over the way we look at life.”
Still, there’s no denying that the pandemic is creating stress, and stress is mentally exhausting and even disease producing. Here’s where laughter really proves its mettle.
“Laughter appears to cause all the reciprocal, or opposite, effects of stress,” says Dr. Lee Berk, associate professor at Loma Linda University, who studies the way a good laugh impacts your brain and body.
“Laughter shuts down the release of stress hormones like cortisol. It also triggers the production of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine, which have all kinds of calming, anti-anxiety benefits. Think of laughter as the yin to stress’s yang.”
People have always known about the mind-body connection. Look no further than the Bible, which states, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”
Ancient Greek physicians, who used humor as an adjunct to other therapies, ordered their patients to visit the hall of comedians as an important part of the recovery process.
Along the same lines, Native American shamans utilized the powerful impact of humor in healing by bringing in their version of clowns. And so on through the ages and around the world.
All of which brings us back to 2020 and back to you. Chances are you are quarantined with at least one other person, and tempers can flare when the days are long and the distance between one another is short.
Once again laughter comes to the rescue. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared guffaw or even a chuckle.
Since we can be so critical of one another, Roberta Gold recommends that you consciously look for three positive traits in your partner, spouse, or roommate. This will help you ride out the temporary confinement in greater peace and harmony.
How can you keep up your spirits while on virtual lockdown? According to Roberta, there are three concrete steps you can take:
In order to take your mind off the virus, play Monopoly, cook up s’mores, or create a masterpiece with your grandchildren’s play dough.
Say “ah,” then “ha,” then “aha,” and start laughing. As Dr. Berk said, there will be a chemical reaction in your brain. The amazing thing is, according to other scientific researchers, laughter works even when it’s forced.
Picture the virus as Jell-O or pillows of cotton or something else ridiculous like that. This visual image will help you cut down on the fear factor. Then you can take a deep breath and start to change your perception of the risks you are facing.
To sum up, laughter can help you get through crises, present and future, so now that you have some time on your hands, you might as well spend it finding your “humor bone.” It will pay big dividends.
Can you see why it is said that, “Laughter is the best medicine?” Do you try to find the funny side of life? When has laughter helped you through a difficult situation? Please share your stories with our sisters!