How Humor Affects Mental Health
We know that it is cliche, but in some cases, the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ really does ring true. It’s true that humor affects mental health. Laughter is never going to be the definitive cure for any disease or condition. However, humor, and in turn laughter, have been shown to have a positive impact on the body. It can ease pain, it can relieve stress, and it can even provide a nice little boost to your immune system.
On this page, we are going to take a look at how humor affects mental health. We are then going to wrap up with a few tips and tricks on how you can get a little bit more humor into your life, even if the world around you seems rather dark.
The Positive Impact of Humor On Your Mental Health
Let’s start with how humor can have a positive impact on your mental health. Some of these are short-term benefits, while others are more long-term.
Do bear in mind that by ‘humor’ we mean that you are actively laughing. It isn’t enough to laugh on the inside. If you want to see a positive impact on your mental health, then you are going to need to let out a good, hearty chuckle!
One of the reasons why people suffer from mental health issues, particularly depression and anxiety, is because their body isn’t producing enough endorphins.
For those that don’t know, endorphins are a chemical. They are produced in various parts of the body, mostly in the pituitary gland. You may sometimes see endorphins referred to as ‘happiness chemicals’. This is because this is exactly what they do.
Endorphins boost your happiness, relieve pain, and combat stress.
There are plenty of ways to boost endorphins in your body. This includes exercise, eating certain foods, etc. However, studies have shown that humor is by far the best way to boost endorphin production.
Stress and Tension Decrease
Study after study has shown that laughing can help to reduce stress and tension in the body. It doesn’t even take much laughing. Just chuckle for a good few seconds (at a joke), and you will find that the tension and stress in your body just washes away.
Reduction of Anxiety and Depression Symptoms
Humor is not going to eliminate anxiety and depression, sadly. Both are conditions that will likely need professional help to deal with completely.
Humor can help to alleviate the symptoms a little bit, though. If you are having a particularly bad day, then watching a funny TV show or movie, and perhaps chatting to your friends, can work wonders in relieving those symptoms.
Some people find that humor gives them enough of a perk to get through even the toughest of days.
More Positivity In Life
Humor helps to forge connections with people. Many people have found that injecting humor into their life can help them to bond with people. By bonding with people, you get all of those other benefits to your mental health. Remember; humans are naturally social animals. We need as much interaction as possible, otherwise, there is always the risk of the negativity starting to creep in.
While this isn’t strictly related to how humor affects mental health, we do want to point out that humor can reduce pain. We know that a lot of people end up suffering from mental health issues due to chronic pain. If you fall into that group, then you will be pleased to know that laughing can see a drastic reduction in pain. In cases of mild pain, it may eliminate it (better than painkillers!). In the case of serious pain, then it will certainly help to take the edge off a little bit.
How Humor Affects Mental Health Negatively
We have gone through how humor can positively impact your mental health. However, sadly, it is not all sweetness and rainbows when it comes to humor. You can’t just have a good chuckle and feel the positive boon. Oh no. Some types of humor can negatively impact your mental health.
Now, it is worth noting that there haven’t been that many studies into how humor can impact your mental health in a negative way. We suppose it is something that can be hard to monitor. However, of the scant studies that have taken place, there seems to be an indication that two types of humor can have a negative impact:
This is when you make negative jokes about yourself. These jokes are all about casting yourself in a negative light for a ‘humorous’ effect. You are making yourself the butt of the joke, essentially as a way to prevent people from saying it about you. This is a very British style of humor. Head to the UK, and everybody will be knocking themselves back.
The problem is that when you lean into self-defeating humor, you are really enhancing the negative beliefs that you may have about yourself. We can’t imagine that this is going to be good for you in the slightest. In fact, one study discovered that there was a high rate of self-harm among those that enjoyed self-defeating humor.
When we talk about aggressive humor, we are talking about humor where you attack somebody. Think along the lines of roasting. You may be sarcastic, or you may be critical.
The same study that looked at self-defeating humor also discovered that there was a high rate of self-harm among those who enjoyed aggressive humor.
Beyond this, there aren’t that many negatives when it comes to how humor affects mental health. As long as you are not putting yourself or others down, a good hearty chuckle can go a long way.
How To Use Humor To Boost Your Mental Health
You already know that there are some types of humor that you want to be avoiding if you want to see a boost in your mental health. However, how do you inject a positive type of humor into your life? Thankfully, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do.
For starters, you are going to want to start watching some funny TV shows or movies. Yes, this may seem obvious. However, it is the best way to inject a chuckle into your life. Look for entertainment that meshes with your personality. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the entertainment is. All that matters is that you are laughing!
Some people may even find it fun to go to stand-up comedy shows. Although, you may want to avoid sitting in the front row. They are always the people that get picked on, and we are sure that having insults hurled at you isn’t going to be great for your mental health!
Finally, make sure that you interact with your friends and family as much as possible. Try to avoid talking about your mental health issues. Just look for a good joke here and there. It is going to work wonders when it comes to perking you up.
So, now you know how humor affects mental health, go out there and seek a belly full of laughs! Just remember that humor is never going to be a substitute for professional help. It is more of a boost, rather than a complete cure.