Now is a time when we need laughter more than ever. If you are like most people right now, on “stay home” orders during this global COVID-19 pandemic, you may be feeling somewhat anxious being cooped up with nowhere to go. While this, too, will pass over time, what we are currently experiencing is like nothing before, and for many of us with fast-paced lifestyles, it may be difficult emotionally. Laughter and positivity can help us navigate through the days ahead.

When was the last time you experienced gut-busting laughter? Emotions, such as joy and laughter, have a significant impact on psychological and physiological processes. Healthcare providers often use the power of laughter to improve health and enhance learning. Remember the story of Hunter (Patch) Adams, who introduced fun and laughter to the hospital setting and spread the idea that “healing should be a loving human interchange, not a business transaction.” Dr. Adams committed his life to exploring the benefits of laughter in medicine. A Hollywood film called Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams, depicted his work, which provided exposure for the therapeutic hospital clowns. Humor is an important tool for forming relationships and strengthening human connections.

Psychoneuroimmunology, the field that looks at interactions between the nervous system and the immune system, was a new and somewhat controversial field of study at the beginning of the 1970s.  We now have strong scientific evidence showing that mood, thoughts, and feelings have a profound impact on our immune system and overall health.  William Fry was a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University who studied the field of laughter and healing and created the term, gelotology (the study of laughter). He published a couple of landmark studies, including “The Respiratory Components of Mirthful Laughter” and “The Biology of Humor.” His work clearly demonstrated that daily laughter can have profound, positive effects on our overall health.

Humor also serves as a coping mechanism. Studies show that people who see the amusing side of problems can better handle stress. So, when challenging times are upon us, we should remember that the power of laughter can help us. Here are some things you can do to add more fun and laughter to your day:

  • Limit news-watching and turn on comedy programs instead (sitcoms, movies, television programs, or stand-up comedy shows)
  • Play fun board games with your family.
  • Play active games alone or with your family (like Twister, Dance-Dance Revolution, or other active games).
  • Turn on some great music and dance, adding a bit of “silliness” to the show.
  • Do an internet search for the funniest animal videos.
  • Play with children and make them laugh (kid laughter is really contagious)
  • Come up with a “happy songs” playlist and keep fun music playing throughout your day. Songs such as “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” can get stuck in your head and that may be a good thing. 

This does not mean you should ignore serious matters or make a joke of them. Instead, accept challenges and be willing to see the positive side of things. During any challenging situation ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? How can this help me?” Find ways to add laughter to your daily life and see what health improvements follow.

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into
something bearable, even hopeful.”  Bob Hope

Visit the Sanoviv website articles for additional information about supporting your immune system and staying healthy.