BY RACHEL · PUBLISHED MARCH 28, 2017 · UPDATED APRIL 25, 2017
"Wanted to share a simple and easy self-care strategy that we often overlook—laughter! We all know how good it feels to have a good laugh, whether with our friends, hearing a funny joke, or because something ridiculous happened and you just can’t help yourself. Letting out a good ole belly laugh or laughing until we cry just feels so good.
But, did you know that laughter has proven health benefits?!? According to this article: http://time.com/3592134/laughing-health-benefits/, laughter can help reverse the body’s reaction to stress! It states:
“…Laughter appears to cause all the reciprocal, or opposite, effects of stress,” Berk explains. He says 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.”
Now I know with certainty that I am not the only social worker who is stressed (ha! Aren’t we all?!?!). Regularly. Both at work and at home. And dealing with information on a daily basis that is often downright depressing. Sometimes, to be honest, it feels strange to even think about laughing with such heaviness surrounding us day to day.
Yet, we need to maintain our humanity and take care of ourselves. Laughing is one key way to help take care of ourselves. Apparently, just one minute of laughter can boost your immune system for over 24 hours. Not sure about you, but my immune system can use any boost that I can give it! And one that requires no strange foods, vitamins, etc??!! Well, that’s a clear win!
So, how can you find some laughter in your day? You know yourself best—what makes you laugh?!? SNL skits? Memes? Telling knock-knock jokes with your kids? Whatever it is, take some time today and make yourself laugh. Your health will thank you.
And if you are struggling with how to bring a little laughter into your life, here are some tips!
- Spend time with the friends who you know make you laugh. I have a group of mom friends who whenever we get together I laugh so hard. Our conversations are real, genuine, about tough stuff, but sprinkled in there is a huge dose of humor. I always leave those nights feeling 10 times lighter and I think it’s largely due to so much laughter!
- Try not taking yourself so seriously. There is so much humor in stuff that happens on a daily basis if we would just stop taking ourselves so seriously. Did you happen to put your shirt on backward in the morning and didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out at work?—try to embrace the humor and laugh about it instead of feel embarrass (p.s. this totally happened to me…more than once). Share these random moments with others—you’ll probably open them up to sharing similar stories that we can all laugh about together.
- Read something that makes you laugh. I recently started reading a book for pleasure that a friend had lent to me. And it’s a great mixture of real life and humor. And when I find something funny I’m purposely laughing out loud instead of to myself (my husband thinks I’m crazy, but it’s making me feel great). You can check out the book I’m reading here (note, it does have a Christian faith and family focus, so if that’s not your thing then don’t get the book, also this is an affiliate link so if you do buy the book from this link I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you, but only including because I’m loving it and it is seriously making me LOL!).
- Watch something that makes you laugh. Guys, SNL, gosh they are hilarious. That’s all I have to say about that. Take 5 minutes and watch a skit or watch a video that’s been traveling around Facebook in which people are commenting about how funny it is. Allow yourself the time and permission to laugh!
- When you feel the urge, let it out! Not sure about you, but I believe laughter seems to come naturally to children. My own two boys can find the most random things downright hilarious. Yet, as adults, I think sometimes we’ve learned to restrain ourselves and let out a smile instead of a deep down belly laugh. Or we’ve let the weight of the world prevent us from embracing humor and laughter. I’m trying to learn from my kids—laughing with them, allowing myself to find the humor in the silly moments of life, and really embracing those moments as they come.