How To Laugh At Stress

Up to this point in this series on the Healing Power of Laughter and stress reduction, I’ve explained some of the reasons that laughter is a great tool for stress reduction, both physically and mentally. In this post, I would like to offer some practical tools that will help you find the humour, and the laughter, in stressful situations.

Have you ever heard the sports phrase, or cliché, “You play like you practice?” Well, it’s true. When we are placed in stressful situations, and athletics is nothing if not stressful, we tend to react to the stress as we’ve been trained to react; most commonly feeling overwhelmed and underequipped to deal with the stress. In other words, if high stress situations tend to make you cry, you will cry the next time you feel stressed. But, if you train yourself to smile, or even laugh in high stress situations, that will soon become your practiced reaction – and, it will be a great stress reliever for you.

What can you do to change your stress reaction?

  • Happy Smiling GirlSmile more often – in as many situations as you can force yourself to do so, and without offending others, smile more often. Recent studies have shown that smiling releases pleasure endorphins, causing you to feel more relaxed and at peace with yourself and your situation. If you practice smiling more often, it will become a habitual reaction to stress. In fact, by smiling at the traffic jam ahead of you each day, you will make your commute much less aggravating.
  • Pause to reconsider – your reaction to stressful situations. Take a moment to examine your response when you feel stressed and consider this, “What is funny about this situation?” if you look at your own situation as an outside observer would, spilling that nail polish on the kitchen table might actually be hilarious.
  • Examine the extremes – of any situation that is causing you to feel stress. In other words, take the situation to its logical, ridiculous conclusion and consider the hilarity of that extreme. For example, suppose that the bath you are running to help you relax were to overflow juuuust a little bit. Imagining a much bigger flood and your partner’s crazy reaction to it might make you laugh so hard you won’t even need the bath to help you relax.
  • Make stress a game – by counting and recording the situations that cause you the most strain. Then, record your reactions and examine the stress you added to the situation by the manner in which you behaved. Share the information with a close friend and have a good laugh over it.
  • Add humour to your life – by regularly reading funny books, watching comedies on television and the theatre, and by enjoying stand-up comedy shows, which are particularly good stress relievers as they tend to make fun of the silly reactions people evince in common situations.

Of course, there are many more things one can do to add humour to life. Seek friends with a great sense of humour. Tell jokes, when appropriate, to relieve tense situations. As another saying goes, “Seek and ye shall find,” and, if you make humour and laughter your goal, then you will be able to laugh at stressful situation because it has become practiced behaviour and – you have finally learned to play like you practice.

For more on changing from a negative to a positive mindset and dealing with stress, you might want to read my book, “Just Give your Head a Shake.”

If you are struggling with your own journey of happiness and stress relief, and would like help finding or staying on the road you would like to follow, get in touch with me today.


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