Skip to content
Home » Blog » How Can I Use Humor to Cope with Trauma?

How Can I Use Humor to Cope with Trauma?


    How Can I Use Humor to Cope with Trauma?

    Using humor to cope with trauma can look in different ways.  Such as, distracting yourself from thinking too deeply about the traumatic event or events.  Also, cracking jokes to minimize the pain of remembering is a way of using humor to cope with trauma.  Lastly, you can try looking at it from a slightly different more humorous perspective. 

    In this article we will explore the role of humor in trauma recovery.  We will learn why laughter is the best medicine and ways that humor can be used negatively instead of positively.  We will also learn and how to effectively use humor to help you heal.

    Why Choose Humor in Trauma Recovery?

    Trauma is messy. It’s hard. Healing takes time and patience. Oftentimes it’s going through and reliving the traumatic event over and over with a trained therapist. That takes a lot out of a person. It takes a toll on an already traumatized person, who wasn’t working at full capacity. Enter dark humor. 

    Dark humor or comedy, according to the article “This Is How Humor Helps Us Survive Trauma”, is defined as ‘a comic style that makes light of subject matter generally considered to be taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered to be serious or painful to discuss’.

    When something life-threatening, like trauma, occurs in our lives, making light about it makes it less threatening. It diminishes the power it once had over us. If you are thinking ‘How can I use humor to cope with trauma’ then the answer is carefully. There are pros and cons to it.

    Why is laughter the best medicine?

    According to the article “Humor in Psychology: Coping and Laughing Your Woes Away”, maintaining a good sense of humor has been shown in several studies to increase our overall life satisfaction and a better resilience for weathering trauma. 

    According to the same article, humor serves as both a defense and coping mechanism.  This is mostly when used in conjunction for coping with traumatic events. When you ask, ‘how can I use humor to cope with trauma’, this is why we use humor in these situations. Cracking jokes about trauma is a natural and healthy way of coping and protecting yourself from feeling the pain of past trauma.

    What are the Negative Impacts of Using Humor to Cope with Trauma?

    As stated previously self-deprecating humor has been linked with negative outcomes on overall life satisfaction.  It also lowers self-esteem. Not only that, but cracking jokes about your particular struggles with a sexual assault or impending divorce may upset those around you.  They may not appreciate your seemingly crass and inappropriate jokes. 

    According to the author of “I use humor to cope with my trauma-and that is completely acceptable”, as long as you are sticking to your own personal experiences with trauma, and it’s helping you heal and get better, then there is really no issue. It’s important to bear this in mind when you ask yourself ‘how can I use humor to cope with trauma’.

    How to use humor effectively to help you heal from trauma?

    If you have been asking yourself ‘how can I use humor to cope with my trauma’, there are several ways to do this.

    1. Learn about humor

    One of the best ways to use humor to cope is simply to learn about humor and ways to use it appropriately. There are four different types of humor.  Make sure to focus on self-deprecating humor, so as not to anger other trauma survivors. Delivering the right punchline about a touchy subject is the core of using humor to cope with trauma.

    1. Make sure it’s helping you feel better and move through your traumatic experience

    There is no point to using humor to help you deal and work through your trauma if it is making you feel more miserable and more traumatized. If humor is your go to-choice when things get hard, then be sure to check-in with yourself periodically. Make sure that humor is still serving a purpose. 

    Also, do be careful to watch for using humor as a deflection for actually coping and healing your past trauma. Sometimes, we make light of our trauma, in order to avoid healing it altogether.  This ultimately is detrimental to our health.

    1. Laugh with other trauma survivors

    There is no better group to share your humor than with other trauma survivors. Most of them have developed the same dark sense of humor. They will understand all too well why you are joking about such a serious subject. 

    A humor support group can also help remind you that ‘if you can laugh at it, you can live it’.  This is when you are feeling down and overwhelmed at the trauma healing process. Humor is a great shield, but sometimes you need a little help.