John Thurman, M.Div., M.A., LPCC said “Humor, laughter, and joy have a powerful effect on health and well-being. humor alleviates tension and stress, boosts mood, raises creativity, and provides a great, drug-free energy boost.”
Laughing stimulates our body’s good chemicals or endorphins, which is why laughter helps relieve tension, stress, and worry. This is why humor therapy is a powerful tool. Having humor has a lot of benefits.
How Humor Therapy Boosts Health
The use of humor therapy was popularized first by Mr. Norman Cousins. At 50, he suffered from a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. Later on, he noticed that when he was doing something that he liked doing, the pain he felt was lesser. So he regularly watched episodes of his favorite Marx Brothers shows. Amazingly, Cousins continued to live on for 20 more years since the day of his diagnosis.
From that time on, a lot of studies were done to confirm the positive effects and pain-relieving benefits of therapy using humor. Other studies also showed that it can indeed boost one’s immune system and can produce relaxation. And because this process tremendously impacts the body, humor therapy has quite a powerful impact on one’s mind.
Below is a list of the most commonly seen benefits of humor therapy on one’s mental health.
- Therapy through humor lowers stress levels, primarily because of lowered cortisol levels when one smiles, laughs, or adds some funniness to a conversation. It is a known fact that cortisol is a stress hormone, so the lower it is in our body, the better for our mental well-being.
- It produces good endorphins, resulting in an improved mood and rejuvenation.
- When you’re talking to someone with an abundant sense of comedy, it can help, especially when you’re having trouble feeling hopeful and happy. Comicness is a medicine that can cure sadness.
- It counteracts anxiety and depression symptoms. It also enables a person to be more expressive of his emotions.
- It adds life to one’s years!
According to Grace Malonai, PhD, LPCC, DCC, “Highly sensitive people are more likely to be self-reflective and think about the consequences of their actions.”
Laughter As Treatment
Laughing is very useful for one’s mental health. Because of this, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals found means to combine it with treatment, which led to creation of Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. This association of psychologists strives to promote and encourage use of laughter and wit in healing settings to help treat or pacify severe mental health disorders. Moreover, another group, Stand Up For Mental Health, hires stand-up comedians to help hasten recovery of mentally ill patients. Some stand-up comedians are asked to perform in universities and conferences to promote awareness about mental health problems.
Laughter Strengthens Relationships
In almost all instances, we laugh more when our friends and other loved ones try to make us laugh. Research reveals that people laugh most when they are with circle of regular friends with whom they are comfortable with. In fact, they laugh 30 times more when they are with other people. This is such good news because laughter strengthens our relationships with others, and as a result, humor therapy enhances our mental and emotional health.
Apart from the benefits of humor therapy mentioned above, laughter also fixes broken friendships and helps pacify arguments and misunderstandings. Also, when we are talking with someone, and we’re laughing with them at the same time, our walls are down, and we become less serious about life. We are more open to listening and accepting other people’s points of view. When we are not so strung and all serious, we tend to relax as well.
A study performed by Robert Levenson at Berkeley, California involved couples whom he instructed to discuss what they didn’t like about each other. During discussion, most couples were laughing and even making faces. The outcome was that they felt much better after this humor therapy experiment, and couples reported that they think their relationships were much improved.
Levenson also concluded that laughing with your partner, or another person for that matter, resulted in a phenomenon known as a “micro-moment of positive connection,” a term created by psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson. This means that we feel happier inside when we share laughs with others. That’s humor therapy benefits right there.
According to John Harrison, LPCC, “The truth is that because we are constantly learning and evolving as individuals within our relationships, there is a never-ending learning and growing process taking place.”
Frequently Asked Questions
- When can you use humor therapy?
- How is therapy through humor practiced?
- What are some physical and mental effects of having humor?
- Does laughing during stressful situations make you stronger?
- Does everyone believe that laughter is indeed the best and cheapest medicine?
- How does having humor affect one’s blood pressure?
- Can cholesterol be possibly affected by humor?
- Does laughter alleviate depression?