- Mental Health
Developing and Maintaining a Sense of Humor for Stress Relief
"Sense of humour - the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous" that's from thefreedictionary.com ... so you don't have to be a comedian or a TV personality to have a genuine sense of humor, the ability to laugh at yourself and other things. Now that we've gotten that straightened out, what about stress? We all know what that is that's for sure. We have it in one form or another every day. Like when we're late for work and can't find our car keys, or we put on that great new skirt and the zipper comes off in our hands...these are stressful situations. Not too humorous I'm sure, but maybe we can start to instill a little humor to help ourselves with stress relief.
Take the photo I've posted as an example. As the party proceeded later into the night than expected, and there was no wood to burn, my daughter (with her sense of humor) gathered the little candles and lit them saying, "let's pretend it's a fire"...we didn't get any warmer, but we sure did laugh. A perfect example of a sense of humor in a stressful situation.
To keep your sense of humor alive, hang around with other folks who have a sense of humor. Happy people make you feel happy. To avoid embarrassing the 'gentleman' showing off his Sponge Bob Underpants (my second picture), let's just say he did it for a laugh and to lighten a situation that was becoming stressful. Obviously you don't have to walk around with your underwear hanging out to be humorous but the lesson here is don't be afraid to be funny to fight stress....laugh about things.
Probably the best way to fight stress is to avoid it. If you don't have stress this whole thing becomes a moot point. However, that is pretty impossible to do so why not embrace humor? Humor can change the way the body deals with stress. Laughter affects your facial muscles, back muscles, and stomach muscles...oh, and did I mention it burns calories and boosts your immune system too! Laughter elevates your mood...all stress reducers.
The easiest way to begin developing a sense of humor is to start with a smile. Yes, a simple smile. When you see something you like, smile. When someone says something you like, smile. Don't worry if people think you're a little unhinged, just smile! Smile at pretty things, smile at cute things....smile...as the song says,
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you
Now that you've taken to smiling, start looking at 'frustrating' and 'stressful' things and think about how ridiculous they really are. Really...your boss telling you he needs that work done in the next hour when you know it's going to take all day....that's ridiculous! How about a line at the grocery store that is winding around the store? That's ridiculous! Granted you can't do anything about either of these situations but smile!
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Now that you're smiling what other ways can you use humor to reduce stress? Watch funny movies or TV shows. If you're watching the TV Show "The Big Bang Theory" and Howard's mother doesn't make you laugh, you may need an attitude adjustment. Watching funny things on TV or in the movies not only helps relieve stress but takes you away from it for a little while. Managing your sense of humor may start here....learning how to get away from things and laugh.
You've heard of "humoring someone", maybe we need humor to go beyond that. What about, "the last laugh", "Tomfoolery", "dark humor", practical jokes, all in the name of humor, all ways to develop your sense of humor. Then of course there's "droll" humor, off-color or risque humor, highbrow, lowbrow, slapstick...you get the idea? Well, pick one!
Of course there's verbal humor or written humor...I might go out on a limb and say we'll find more written than verbal here. Writing anecdotes or epigrams may be one way to develop your sense of humor. Of course the Freudian slip often fits as well on men as it does on women!
Learn to take yourself lightly and laugh at things you do and things that happen to you, when appropriate of course. Make fun a priority in your life, not something left over for after the meltdown. Give yourself permission to be happy in all situations. Face those stressful situations with a smile on your face and humor in your heart.
Manage stress through humor and you'll be a happier, healthier person!