Humor to Relieve Stress

Charlotte Gerber
Clowning around relieves stress.

Did you know that you could use humor to relieve stress? Consider the phrase, "laughter is the best medicine." This phrase is true and you can use humor relieve stress in your life too.

Stress is the Silent Killer

Physicians and researchers agree that stress has become one of the biggest threats to the health of people worldwide. Stress doesn't just cause muscle tension that can be treated with a massage or a few pills. Stress causes internal damage that isn't always visible to the naked eye. The record number of heart attacks and strokes each year can attest to one of the worst effects of stress. Heart attacks can happen during stressful situations, such as driving in heavy traffic, working in a stressful occupation, or simply getting angry with a family member. According to the American Heart Association, one in every five deaths is attributed to heart attacks.

How Humor Relieves Stress

Laughter can help to relax muscles, lower blood pressure, and increase the oxygen level in your blood. Laughter lowers the serum cortisol levels in the blood and increases the T-lymphocytes (T-cells) in the body. Dr. Lee Berk at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine did studies on the effect laughter has on the body's immune system. His research showed that laughter increased the number of T-cells and the activity of natural killer cells. His findings showed that laughter stimulated the immune system, counteracting the negative effects of stress.

When to Use Humor

In some cultures, laughing out loud in public is not acceptable. In the United States, however, laughing is appropriate, as long as it isn't done at someone's expense or done at an inappropriate time. Being able to laugh at yourself, or your mistakes, makes it easy to relieve stress, especially at work. When you reduce the stress of a situation, it allows you to view a situation more clearly. Laughter can help to put some distance between yourself and a problem and allow you to find a solution more easily. Try humor the next time you have a problem at work or at home.

How to Use Humor to Relieve Stress

If you're having trouble imagining yourself laughing, or think that nothing can tickle your funny bone, think again. Everyone has a sense of humor, even if they don't express it frequently. According to Dr. Linda Mintle, a licensed clinical social worker, the following methods can help people to laugh and release stress.

  • Read a funny book
  • Watch cartoons and comedies on television or DVD
  • Tell jokes
  • Tickle or be tickled
  • Play a fun board game with kids
  • Play a silly single-player video game
  • Go out to see a silly movie at the theater
  • Listen to an upbeat talk radio show or listen to silly songs on CD

Humor Tips

Now that you know how humor can help you relieve stress in your life, it is time to apply it. The following are a few examples of how you can apply humor to a stressful situation in your life.

  • Stress while driving. Everyone who drives has experienced anger at one time or another, whether it is bumper-to-bumper situations or anger at an inconsiderate driver. Set at least one channel on the dial to a fun talk show or station with fun, upbeat songs. Additionally, collect a few humorous CDs to play. Try Weird Al Yankovik or Doctor Demento for some adult silly songs.
  • Stress at home. Rent or buy a few really silly movies to play when you're feeling out of sorts. Some classics include Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, Galaxy Quest, and Wild Hogs.
  • Stress at work. Your computer has crashed and you have a lot of work to do, or your boss is demanding shorter deadlines and harder projects. Everyone has experienced this or similar problems sometime. Self-deprecating humor can go a long way, especially if you caused the problem. Crack a joke about the situation, or yourself, but never at another person's expense.

Incorporate more humor in your life to reduce the chances of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Use humor to relieve stress because it really is the best, and least expensive, medicine available.

Humor to Relieve Stress