Humour can be a powerful and effective mechanism for coping with stress, especially when combined with other means of stress reduction. The real power of humour and laughter shows up when you learn to use it in stressful situations. It keeps things in perspective, helps dispel negative emotions, and puts you in a frame of mind that can help you better cope with the situation. Combining stress management techniques with a more light-hearted outlook on life won’t make you stress-proof, but it can make the difficult things easier to endure.

If you’re willing to laugh at the little disasters in life, you’ll find that other areas of your life will also become easier. Laughter, especially when you laugh at yourself, does many important things:

  1. It empowers you. When you laugh at your setbacks, you no longer feel sorry for yourself. You feel uplifted and encouraged.
  2. It helps you communicate more effectively.
  3. It makes you more likeable.
  4. It helps you cope. “Nothing erases unpleasant thoughts more effectively than concentration on pleasant ones.” (Hans Selye, stress researcher)
  5. It provides perspective by removing you from your problems. Everyone makes mistakes, and we need to remember that, “I may not be totally perfect, but parts of me are excellent.” (Ashleigh Brilliant)
  6. People tend to be less threatened by you.

Using Humour Effectively

You may agree that laughing will help with your stress but agreeing with this doesn’t always help when the kids fight, miss the bus, and leave you late for work.

Everyone has his or her own sense of humour. If you’re not attuned to yours, you’ll end up missing many opportunities to use humour skills to deal with life’s stressors. Being an adult can be serious business, but so many people have lost the sheer capacity for fun, joy, and laughter.

Even when the opportunity is there, we miss it. Many adults have this problem that can be called “humour impairment.” Simply defined, it means the inability to find humour even in situations that are funny to most people. Stress can cause humour impairment. Fortunately you can make the choice to change.

Finding the Laughter in Life

You don’t have to laugh out loud to find something funny, but you do need to recognise the types of humour you will be able to use most effectively to manage stress. Do you like slapstick humour or verbal humour? Do you understand what kinds of humour offend you? Do you like jokes that focus on things you have in common with the comedian? Do you like humour built on current events? Do you like wordplay and puns? Do you like to see props and gimmicks? Do you find humour in things that weren’t necessarily meant to be funny?

Answering these questions will help you identify what humour to seek to help reduce stress and have more fun in life. You also need to ask yourself how long you hold on to misery before letting loose with humour.