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Using Humor to Build Resilience and Improve Mental Health

May 14, 2021

For many, the last year has been difficult and grim.  While those already struggling with grief, loss, depression and anxiety there can be long periods of time where one's mental landscape is bleak.

And yet, human beings also need lightness, humor and authentic laughter to feel human. Bob Griggs, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ who lives in St. Louis Park, Minnesota says, “Finding some humor in a situation allows you to step back and see things more clearly. Laughing is like taking a deep breath and bringing everything back down to earth.” 

When we are depressed of anxious our sense of humor can be blunted or dull and that is why we need to seek it out. I have had some of my best laughs in therapy sessions treating clients as a therapist and also when I was seeking treatment! 

Experts know a good laugh is good for your mental and physical health*. It stimulates your heart and lungs and releases many mood lifting chemicals such as endorphins.    

If you are not sure how to increase your humor and laughter response try some of these ideas:

  • Look for it!  Look for funny cards in the store, if one brings a chuckle, buy it for yourself and keep it handy for those times you need a laugh.
  • Surf for laughs online:  Look for jokes or funny video or comedy bits and spend a little time reading or watching them to see what tickles your fancy.
  • Know what is funny and what is not: Laugh WITH others not AT others or yourself. Make sure that you are not sliding into cynicism or sarcastic laughter. This is not healthy humor. Make sure that when you laugh, it is joyful and a time of connection. It may take some practice but with some intention you can add healthy humor to your life and feel the joy of laughter even as we face the real challenges of life.