When you are struggling with stress and in emotional pain, its difficult to laugh. Perhaps there doesn’t seem to be anything to laugh about, nothing seems funny. Maybe laughing seems to send the wrong message, that others would not believe that you are sad or scared if you aren’t showing that emotion all the time.
Yet laughter is one of the most powerful actions we can do to improve your mood and support good health. Laughter relaxes the whole body (for up to 45 minutes), boost the immune system, triggers endorphins that promote an overall sense of well-being and improves the function of the blood flow which protects the heart.
If you are familiar with DBT skills, you know that one way to change your emotion (if you want to) is through creating opposite emotions. Laughter can be one of the ways to create an opposite emotion to fear or sadness. Plus laughter works quickly.
In addition, when shared, laugher strengthens relationships and reduces conflict. When you laugh, you can see situations as less scary. Laughing together increases intimacy and the wish to be together.
You don’t have to be in the mood to laugh. You can just decide to laugh for a while. Throw yourself into it. Laugh with your whole body.
You can also seek out reasons to laugh. Watch comedy shows with a willingness to laugh. Laugh at antics of your pet, laugh at moments that you might label embarrassing, play with toys, watch videos about funny things children do, Keep pictures around that remind you of funny situations. Keep a funny picture as your computer screen saver.
So laughing is the skill for today. Remember that if you are sad or depressed or anxious, you will not want to laugh. That’s the way the brain works. Emotions feed themselves and when you are depressed or anxious you don’t see the positive. So commit to being willing to laugh regardless of whether you want to or feel like it. Find reasons to laugh and laugh for no reason. Laugh for 30 seconds at a time, full out laughing. Do it several times today and keep practicing.