No Laughing Matter: Why Humor Is So Important to Mental Health

Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C · December 18, 2019

Is laughter really the best medicine? While humor might seem counterintuitive when used in the same sentence as “mental health,” it can be a powerful tool for those looking to improve their mental health. Positive coping mechanisms like exercise or spending time with loved ones remain powerful, but you might be surprised to learn how far a good giggle can go.

The Power of Laughter

Laughter is a great coping mechanism used by many people in their daily lives. There is plenty of evidence from studies, including this one by NIH, that humor can relieve pain, boost your immune system, improve positive feelings, moderate stress and help to distance the laughing person from feelings of sadness or distress. In short, that means that humor can improve your mental health, as well as your physical health!

The Connection Between Laughter and Mental Health

Humor and laughter make us feel good and give us a connection with the world around us. They can also help us to maintain a positive attitude in tough situations, whether the situation is the loss of a loved one, a change in life circumstances or a breakup. There is a reason why so many old television sitcoms have a laugh track in the background. That’s because laughter is contagious and often about connection. Shared humor is powerful, and much of the humor in the average person’s life comes less from hearing and responding to a joke and more from just being around loved ones.

Because laughter reduces stress and often interrupts a more intense moment, it can briefly distract from a bad situation and shift perspective. If you can find the humor in a situation and realize that every situation has a certain degree of levity, it’s much harder to feel so overwhelmed and conflicted.

How to Bring More Laughter into Your Life

  • Smile! A smile is the start of a laugh, and smiling can be just as contagious as laughter is.
  • Spend time with people who make you happy and who are funny. There are many people who laughter comes easy to, and their skill at reframing the world in a humorous light can be your gain by spending time with them.
  • Lighten up conversations with humor. Ask people around you what the funniest thing they’ve experienced over the past week was, or find ways to look for the humor in your own life.

Improve Your Mental Health With CBT Baltimore

If you are interested in seeking therapy in Baltimore, we’re here to help.  Contact the CBT experts at CBT Baltimore at 443-470-9815. We would love to speak with you.