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Description: Oh lighten up a bit! That likely does not sound like a helpful thing for you to say to a friend who has been telling you about how stressed and depressed they have been feeling lately. Really, it is not, but what role might humor or seeing humorous parts of even the dark aspects of the world around us and our experiences in it have on our overall long-term wellbeing? It is not that humor fixes dark things but think about what a little bit of humor might do for how we are responding to the stress and anxieties we are feeling. Think about how “lightening up a bit” might help us cope and then have a read through the article linked below that explores research into this very question.

Source: When Everything id Heavy, a Touch of Humor Can Help, Carolyn Todd, The New York Times.

Date: November 1, 2022

Image by jungminleee from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, the article is NOT saying that we should not take anything seriously. Rather, it is pointing out that both the short- and longer-term impacts of stress upon us can be reduced if we cultivate an ability to see humor in at least some of what occurs to and around us. While it is talked of a mindset (remember or try to do more of something) it might be better though of as a bodyset with the idea being that when we are experiencing stress and anxiety we can lighten the impact of the physiological stress processes in our brain and body by introducing some levity along the way. Worth a try and certainly not a bitter medicine for stress and adversity.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What are some differences between levity and humor?
  2. Why might taking things less seriously (using more levity) be good for us even in dark times?
  3. Why does levity help us, physiologically speaking?

References (Read Further):

Oliveira, R., & Arriaga, P. (2022). A systematic review of the effects of laughter on blood pressure and heart rate variability. HUMOR. Link

Crawford, S. A., & Caltabiano, N. J. (2011). Promoting emotional well-being through the use of humour. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(3), 237-252. Link

Hall, J. A. (2017). Humor in romantic relationships: A meta‐analysis. Personal Relationships, 24(2), 306-322. Link

Bartzik, M., Bentrup, A., Hill, S., Bley, M., von Hirschhausen, E., Krause, G., … & Peifer, C. (2021). Care for joy: evaluation of a humor intervention and its effects on stress, flow experience, work enjoyment, and meaningfulness of work. Frontiers in Public Health, 9. Link

Ruch, W. F., Hofmann, J., Rusch, S., & Stolz, H. (2018). Training the sense of humor with the 7 Humor Habits Program and satisfaction with life. Humor, 31(2), 287-309. Link

Martin, R. A. (2008). Humor and health. The primer of humor research, 479-522. Link

Marziali, E., McDonald, L., & Donahue, P. (2008). The role of coping humor in the physical and mental health of older adults. Aging and Mental Health, 12(6), 713-718. Link

Edwards, K. R., & Martin, R. A. (2010). Humor creation ability and mental health: Are funny people more psychologically healthy?. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 6(3), 196-212. Link