Laughter is the Best Medicine: Possible Side Effects

July 22, 2022

Christy Braybrook (she/her/hers], Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


We all struggle with issues that arise in our lives, whether related to family issues, mental health or financial concerns — the list could go on and on. What makes us different is how we cope with these issues, and not all coping strategies are healthy. People find ways to drown their troubles in alcohol, food or even codependent relationships. Although these options may help short-term, eventually these destructive tendencies cause more harm than good. Comparatively speaking, using humour as a coping method seems harmless compared to using alcohol or drugs. But is it healthy?


Looking on the positive side of things, who doesn’t feel like their best while having a good laugh with friends? There are studies linking humour and psychological well-being, creativity and productivity. Although these studies have a long way to go before they prove the benefits that humour and laughter have, it may be worth incorporating a bit of funny into our lives.


But there are two sides to every coin. When does humour as a defense mechanism become a problem? Is it self-deprecating humour? Are you laughing at yourself among friends good-heartedly and then crying alone in your bed at night? Sometimes the people in our lives that seem the happiest are going through a lot and are not nearly as happy as they appear. 


Personally, I love to laugh even at the saddest of times. When something negative happens to me, I like to look at whatever positives there are in the situation. Sometimes just reframing a situation can make all the difference. Maybe that person was not meant to be in your life, or losing a job meant you found an even better position.


So, like most questions in life, there is no right or wrong answer. Only a collection of different individuals with complex, unique perspectives. Below is a comparison of healthy and unhealthy uses of humour.


Humour as an Unhealthy Defence Mechanism:

  • Does your humour prevent you from opening up? Are you using it to deflect questions or refuse responsibility for your actions?
  • Is it humour or is it self-deprecation (meaning that your intention is to redirect negativity toward yourself)?
  • What is the context? Are you in a therapy session or talking with friends?


Humour as a Healthy Coping Strategy:


  • Laughter can have many benefits. It can lead to diffusing anger and allow someone to open up and discover things about themselves.
  • Are you using it to change the environment for the better? Is it benefitting not only others, but yourself as well?
  • People can increase their mood through humour, and positive thoughts can help fight stress.


Everyone must evaluate themselves whether using humour is helpful or causing more damage than it is worth. For me, I heavily rely on humour to cope with stressful situations, and listed below are some ways I use to bring humour into everyday life.


Tips for Using Humour to Cope

  • Put on a funny movie, watch a comedy YouTube channel or read an uplifting book. This can shift your mood and allow you to find the humour in your own situation.
  • Try to remove yourself from the situation and look at things from a different perspective. You’ll be surprised how your thinking may change
  • Turn to a trusted friend who can understand your situation. Laughing with someone can make us feel more connected and can be beneficial. 


Remember: start small and work your way up. For example, I spilled coffee all over my new car and myself. For a moment, I wanted to be angry, cry or perhaps even yell, but instead I started to laugh. Of course, this would happen on the day I was late and had a big presentation. Instead of feeling down and having it possibly affect my presentation, I got myself cleaned up and went about my day like it had never happened. 


At the time, even though it was a rather minor annoyance, it was difficult to laugh about it and move on. Now, when there is something that is a much bigger issue than spilling coffee, I use the same tactic to turn the situation around. If you are unsure what works for you, find some coping strategies and practice them! It could be humour, meditation, exercise and everything in between. The important thing is finding a healthy coping strategy that works for you!


Leave your thoughts for Christy in the comments below better yet, start up a dialogue with the Low Entropy community in person at a Conscious Connections meeting or online at our community site. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube to stay up-to-date with Low Entropy news!

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