I have a confession to make. Despite being a writer, I don’t know all the letters of the alphabet. I don’t know y.
Some of you may have groaned, some shook their heads, and others laughed. “Dad jokes” and in my world, mom jokes, are the cringe-worthy jokes that I enjoy the most. While I will never make a career as a stand-up comedian, I definitely enjoy a good laugh. That’s a good thing because humor can help mental health recovery with physical and emotional benefits.
I’ll admit, it took me a while to find my smile and to find my laughter. When I was in the depths of depression, it was hard to find. Fortunately, through this journey, I have been able to find it. When I look back on pictures from before treatment, right after, and now, I can clearly see a difference in my smile. It’s been a journey and well worth it. There are many benefits to laughter.
An article from Mayo Clinic shows there are several benefits to laughter. It states that three short term benefits are that it releases endorphins, helps you feel relaxed, and even helps reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress. The long term benefits it states laughter provides are improvement of immune system functioning, pain relief, increase in personal satisfaction, and improvement of mood.
How Do You Laugh?
Those are all fantastic results to experience. But how does one experience laughter when experiencing depression? How do you bring yourself to smile when it feels completely opposite of current emotions? I don’t have data-driven answers, but I can share my personal experiences.
Watch a Funny Movie
I remember before I went to FHE, and I was so deep in depression. My mind was telling me to do certain things I knew were not safe choices. The only way I knew how to avoid the unsafe choices at that time was to distract myself and do the opposite. The opposite of my depression was laughter. Since I often couldn’t sleep, I would put on a movie that always makes me laugh. In case you are wondering, that movie is “White Chicks.” Anyway, even in my darkest moments, it would bring at least a giggle.
Watch A Comedian
Another thing I would do when feeling down was to stream some shows of comedians I enjoy. Anything by Gabriel Iglesias or Jeff Dunham was a sure way to make me laugh. Who is your favorite comedian? If you have a streaming device, you can search them up to see all the shows or movies with them in it.
Scroll Social Media
Ok, I know. Social media sometimes gets looked down on as a negative influence. However, there can be some really funny content on there. Do you like funny memes (remember grumpy cat?) or funny stories? Simply searching those on social media can bring up a smile. I like to search for comedians on TikTok. I find that my algorithm has found funny people that relate to the chronic illnesses and mental health struggles I have. It helps me feel less alone and also gives me a chance to laugh about my struggles and not forget the benefits of sarcasm.
Sarcasm Can be Beneficial
Sarcasm can be a deflective tool and it can also be a humorous tool. When done in a way that isn’t trying to hurt someone else, it can be a way to lighten the moment and laugh. Some of my greatest moments at FHE were filled with some serious sarcasm.
Being able to find humor and laugh at the hard stuff we were going through was essential to being able to find a light in the darkness. It also created a way to bond. Here we were, trying to find ways to navigate our struggles but laughing through it instead of crying. Although I did cry a lot, finding laughter was a way to show me hope existed, even if others would cringe at our humor.
Getting to the Other Side
Sometimes, when faced with big things, you either laugh or cry. Crying seems daunting to me so I just laugh and make awful jokes. I like when I can find the humor or at least sarcasm in my situation because it actually boosts my confidence. It’s like “Hey, this is a crazy situation but we’ll find the silver lining so we can get through to the other side.”
Humor, like everything in life, is a journey. Laughter is contagious and not the germy kind of contagious. It can bring physical and mental health benefits. It can help you get to the other side of a rough moment, even if others shake their heads.
So if you’re having a rough moment, maybe grab your favorite snack and watch a funny movie or grab some friends and play a funny game like Cards Against Humanity or for a kid friendly version, Kids Create Absurdity. The benefits you experience from finding humor may surprise you.