The coronavirus pandemic has caused an inordinate amount of stress on an already over-stressed population. Whether it be financial, social or physical, the deleterious effects of stress caused by the pandemic will likely reverberate for many years if not decades into the future. The key to mitigating the harmful effects of chronic stress is by practicing daily stress management techniques.
Unfortunately, many people aren’t interested in learning how to meditate or do yoga or deep breathing exercises. But there is one enjoyable remedy most people can easily do from the comfort of home that the Mayo Clinic considers one of the most effective forms of stress relief: laughing.
A hearty chuckle, suggests Mayo Clinic, exerts very positive short-term effects. For starters, laughter improves your mental outlook by activating endorphins in the brain (happy hormones). Laughing out loud also offers physical benefits. For instance, laughing heartily increases your lung capacity and improves cardiac output.
In addition, by temporarily increasing your heart rate and then decreasing it, laughing out loud lowers blood pressure. A good fit of laughter also lowers levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Moreover, enjoying a good chuckle benefits the circulation, relaxes the muscles and can make you feel overall more relaxed.
Mayo Clinic suggests laughing also offers long-term benefits such as improved immune function, pain relief, and a more stable mood, thereby improving depression and anxiety in people. In addition, laughing increases one’s personal satisfaction, makes it easier to cope with difficult situations, and also helps you connect with other people.
But for some people, learning how to laugh can be as difficult as learning how to meditate. In this case, Mayo Clinic offers some tips for cultivating humor (obvious as they may be) such as reading jokes online, watching funny TV shows, reading the comic strips in the newspaper, etc.
And if those methods don’t make you laugh, there’s always laughter yoga … and that’s no joke!