Being depressed is far from funny, it can feel like the joke is in fact, on you. It is very difficult and everything has a dark grey and heavy feeling to it. The light has gone from your eyes and finding joy in even the smallest of things is so very hard. But maybe it’s possible to occasionally find respite in the power of laughter. Can laughter help overcome depression? In this article, we discuss whether laughing and actively spending time smiling more can improve our overall mental health.
Laughter Offers A Relief
When you laugh at something you can’t feel both pain and positive emotions. It is literally impossible. Don’t believe it? Try it now, sit for just 30 seconds with a smile on your face, even if fake. You will find it impossible to feel as bad as you did initially. Imagine the power of true laughter on our mood if this is the case.
Laughter offers you respite from feeling negative emotions such as depression, fear, and anger. These emotions are all quite bad for your health if experienced for extended lengths of time. This idea of respite is known as the relief theory often used in films when a scene may be tense. For example, Rush Hour is often action-packed with tense moments but adds humor to release the feelings of tension and stress. Or again, in recent film IT 2, a horror film that is graphic has the main characters telling jokes during being scared. Completely releasing both the viewers and the tension of the character.
The relief theory is the basis for a device movie-makers have used effectively for a long time. In action films or thrillers where tension is high, the director uses comic relief at just the right times. He builds up the tension or suspense as much as possible and then breaks it down slightly with a side comment, enabling the viewer to relieve himself of pent-up emotion…As we try to cope with two sets of emotions and thoughts, we need a release and laughter is the way of cleansing our system of the built-up tension and incongruity.
If we consider the above statement in a day to day life experience we can make every situation easier to deal with by adding humor. By taking a different stance and viewpoint on things that are dragging us down, looking at situations in a light-hearted way. It can help release pent up emotions and remove negative thoughts.
Can Laughter Help Overcome Depression? It Can Reduce Negative Emotions Such As Stress And Anger
Laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. In doing this, laughter provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility.
When depressed we can get all sorts of negative emotions. Negative emotions like stress, anger, betrayal, disrespect, and hostility in our minds can feel impossible to shift. Like all emotionally charged thoughts, once they become a repeated process of thinking they become a habit. Like all habits, they can be broken, you can learn to change the way you think about things with time and practice.
The more we laugh the more we shut off the chemicals that cause negative thoughts and feelings. A short release of laughter and a smile can take away so much pain that is inside your mind.
Laughing Increases Your Power Of Recall And Improves Your Immune System
Not only can laughing take away feelings of depression but it can also improve the power of recall. When your mind is at ease it makes it easier to memorize important information and recall it at a later date.
It is also believed that laughing often helps your immune system work better. This is all to do with improved mental activity and brain waves that are called gamma frequencies.
Can Laughter Help Overcome Depression? It Can Improve Your Sense Of Reward
When we are happy our brain releases a chemical called endorphins in our brain. This reduces and replaces the stress hormones improving a sense of wellbeing. It is believed endorphin chemical release in the brain is four times stronger than the hormones that bring on stress and depression. So can laughing help overcome depression? Yes, it may be true to say that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ ( or one of ) for making us feel a better sense of wellbeing.
The act of laughter — or simply enjoying some humor — increases endorphins, sending dopamine to the brain to provide a sense of pleasure and reward, Berk said.
Tips To Add Laughter Into Your Life
- Figure out what makes you laugh and do it (or read it or watch it) more often.
- Surround yourself with funny people — be with them every chance you get.
- Develop your own sense of humor. Maybe even take a class to learn how to be a better comic — or at least, a better joke-teller at that next party. Be funny every chance you get — as long as it’s not at someone else’s expense!
Learn To Take A Lighter View Of All Situations
Practice laughing in your life on a regular basis. Never take things too seriously, even when you want to be angry, sad, or depressed. Actively try to look at life through a funny or more light-hearted way.
It is possible to achieve this way of thinking through processes called CBT.CBT helps you to actively choose to see the positive possibilities rather than the negative ones. It adds on the ability to see life through a different viewpoint and you may find that you begin to change how you perceive life. Regular CBT practice can help you become more light-hearted and choose not to get upset by things that may have in the past.
So Can Laughter Help Overcome Depression?
Laughter, although extremely rewarding, is unlikely to heal depression on its own. It is definitely a powerful tool that can work alongside other methods of healing. It will almost guarantee to lift your mood but of course, when depressed it can be hard to find the energy to laugh.
Saying this, we believe that taking the time to watch a comedy or comedian is highly therapeutic. It stimulates your brain and if you laugh, releases endorphins (happy hormones ) and boosts serotonin levels. Thus this blocks the stress hormones that cause depression.
I know it’s not easy to laugh, particularly after a string of bad luck but if you pay attention to how you feel when you laugh you will notice that you don’t feel as bad as before. If only for a short period of time. If you continue making time to laugh it will begin to help change the way you think and the levels of positive chemicals in your brain in a natural way.
Try to make a small amount of time to laugh. Laugh at yourself and your situation and try to begin to see the lighter side of life. Nothing is as terrible as it may seem with a lighter heart. To finish, here is a video of one of my favourite comedians of all time.