It is a fact that our world is currently facing extremely difficult situations due to COVID-19. The pandemic has tested our ability to adapt, with quarantine and lockdowns being one of the most complicated of the contingency measures.
Humans are a social species and the isolation and modification of our daily routines has caused an increase in the likelihood of suffering depression or anxiety. And this is why it is important to be aware of tools we can count on to manage a prolonged stay at home, and even grow as a person by obtaining the benefits of laughter, good humor and optimism.
Laugh Out Loud
Various investigations point to numerous advantages in laughter including
Production of endorphins – Endorphins are chemical substances that produce a sense of pleasure and well-being in people. When we laugh, a cascade of reactions produce their secretion, helping us to feel good and, therefore, forget about unpleasant life situations.
Reducing cortisol levels – Cortisol is colloquially known as the stress hormone; laughter, among other substances, helps produce stress regulating hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin, thus improving our mood.
Decreases negative thoughts and combats fear – There is a system in the body called the parasympathetic system. This, thanks to all the chemistry that is produced when we laugh (explained briefly above) is activated, helping us to stay calm, cool-headed and keep catastrophic thoughts away from our minds.
Promotes digestion – Laughter helps to normalize blood pressure putting you in a state of tranquility. When the body is governed by the parasympathetic system (previously mentioned), with no other concerns, it performs metabolic activities that require calm, such as digestion.
Dilates the pulmonary alveoli – When laughing, the alveoli expand up to three times. These are the functional and terminal part of the respiratory system, which are responsible for gas exchange by letting oxygen into the body and removing carbon dioxide, which increases the amount of air the lungs pump out.
A Good Sense of Humor
Good humor, unlike laughter, is considered to be a longer-lasting state that determines how we express ourselves in our environment and with other people. It adds optimism to situations, helps in solving problems from a new perspective, and brings us joy. Among its benefits are
Patience and tolerance – Through the idea of being able to enjoy social interaction with some humor, we find ourselves more open to the opinions of others and understand that everyone has a different pace for carrying out different tasks. All this reduces friction in relationships.
Kindness – When a person experiences situations with joy the atmosphere becomes relaxed, which promotes the way other people perceive our way of speaking and acting, feeling free from threats and prejudices, and thus opening the possibility for harmonious interaction.
Perseverance – Frustration takes a back seat when we see things from a relaxed and fresh perspective, seeing an opportunity rather than feeling overwhelmed by not achieving something at the first attempt.
Given the challenges people are facing around the world, it is easy to forget that we all have innate abilities to help us face difficult situations. Changing our perspective and mindfully choosing how to react to our circumstances can help transform our daily lives even during the pandemic. It is not that we are ignoring the issues, but that we choose to see them objectively through an optimistic lens. A good sense of humor and laughter help build resilience and allow us to keep moving forward even in the face of non-ideal conditions.
Sources: Bonill de las Nieves, Candela. (2010). El empleo del humor como estrategia de mejora de los cuidados. Index de Enfermería, 19(2-3), 213-214. Recuperado en 24 de abril de 2020, de http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1132-12962010000200031&lng=es&tlng=es. 2. Siurana Aparisi, Juan Carlos. (2013). Los rasgos de la ética del humor: Una propuesta a partir de autores contemporáneos. Veritas, (29), 9-31. https://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-92732013000200001 3. Fernández-Poncela, Anna-María. (2012). ‘Riéndose aprende la gente’: Humor, salud y enseñanza aprendizaje. Revista iberoamericana de educación superior, 3(8), 51-70. Recuperado en 24 de abril de 2020, de http://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2007-28722012000300003&lng=es&tlng=es.