When we grieve it can be hard, at times to imagine laughing again. Often, people are surprised when they find themselves laughing nervously or making a joke. There’s a dissonance that can make you wonder, ‘Why am I laughing at a time like this?’’ It’s more common than you would expect for people to use laughter in times of grief. Humor can be both a defense mechanism in times of crisis and a tool for coping long after the moment of the loss. After bracing yourself for sadness and seriousness it may be surprising to find humor instead; but this type of reaction is normal. More importantly, it is healthy.

Health benefits of laughter include

  • Lowering blood pressure
    • Lower blood pressure reduces your risk of strokes and heart attacks.
  • Reducing stress hormone levels
    • When you reduce the level of stress hormones your body produces it both cuts anxiety and stress that impact your body.
  • It’s a fun ab workout
    • Laughter can help you tone your abs. When you are laughing, the muscles in your stomach expand and contract, similar to when you intentionally exercise your abs.
  • Improving cardiac health
    • Laughter is a great cardio workout. It gets your heart pumping and burns a similar amount of calories per hour as walking at a slow to moderate pace.
  • Releasing of endorphins
    • Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-killers. By laughing, you can release endorphins, which can help ease chronic pain and make you feel good all over.
  • Producing a general sense of well-being
    • There’s time to cry and time to laugh: Both are healing.

Consider coming to laugh with our special guest, Bart Sumner, at his healing Improv Workshop on April 8th and 9th.

–  COPE Clinical Director Amy Olshever, PhD, LCSW