How Humor is Used to Combat Stress

I wanted to talk for a moment about humor. Humor has long been an integral part of modern humanity. Humor is a social salve of sorts and often a universal language. Much like tears, a smile, or a wave, laughter spans languages and cultures.

Now a sense of humor itself varies greatly person to person. Our individual sense of humor is just as unique and versatile as our personalities. Just as we all have different tastes in food or music, different style preferences, or different hobbies we find enjoyment in, we all have different things we find funny and ultimately different senses of humor… some are more vulgar or crass than others, others are dry, others go for shock value, but laughter itself is universal. Now humor should never be at the expense of another person, bullying or belittling another individual, or saying derogatory statements are pretty easy to take offense to and for good reason. Racism is not funny, sexism is not funny, hate speech is not funny etc. Humor has its boundaries.

That being said, humor has a long history of being used to combat fears and navigate social issues. Humor itself is a rather effective coping mechanism for stress.

Throughout history difficult times, stressful events, and oppressive social situations have been the subject of jokes and humorous interpretations.

There are entire television shows dedicated to taking a humorous view of current events, not because the events themselves are funny or not to be taken seriously but because humor can be a unification effort and a much needed reprieve from hard to swallow news or stressful scenarios.

Memes are a prime example of contemporary humor. These memes typically make light of situations or social scenarios that are are difficult to contend with. Humor takes the power of fear and stress away and replaces it with something easier to contend with.

Not everyone will be able to find humor in every situation. What one person is able to see humor in, another might take great offense to. It is important however to realize that neither of these positions are wrong or right as they are two different approaches and two different emotional responses to the same stress, fear, or social concern.

We all have different coping mechanisms and what works for one individual may or may not work for another. The same goes for humor. I personally am able to find humor in most situations, but I am also a person who uses sarcasm as a form of coping as well.

Humor is a very personal thing but can be a very effective tool in managing and processing stressful or frightening situations. Find something to laugh about today, a meme, a joke book (omg my kids love these), a sitcom, a Netflix special, funny animal videos… whatever it is, give yourself a laugh! My kids play this game in the car where they make funny faces at each other to see who will laugh first, it’s ridiculous to watch but their laughter is pure.

I have posted links below to several articles that explain the psychology behind humor and why it is an integral part of human nature. Feel free to share your go to for humorous reprieve.

https://www.verywellmind.com/maintain-a-sense-of-humor-3144888

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

https://psychcentral.com/lib/humor-as-weapon-shield-and-psychological-salve/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/arts-and-health/200806/humor-the-human-gift-coping-and-survival

https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/awfully-funny

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