Tis the season to be jolly—right? Why not? A good sense of humor and an occasional hearty laugh can be a great formula for getting through the holidays intact.
What is it about laughter and joy that feels like such a magic potion? According to ancient wisdom and modern science, a merry heart is like medicine. It is healing and restorative. Laughter, in fact, releases powerful endorphins in the brain that generate a sense of well-being and harmony throughout your entire body.
How can you put more of it into your life, especially if you are one of the millions who suffer from depression during the holidays?
Here are some possibilities:
1. Start your day with a smile on your face. Make it a habit to roll out of bed with a big smile and after a while it will be the only way to start your day.
2. Practice gratitude. Before you rise (and while you’re smiling) remind yourself of something you are grateful for. Do the same at bedtime.
3. Practice self-deprecating humor. You can do this alone or in company. Making fun of yourself will help you take yourself and life’s bumps a little less seriously.
4. Turn off the news. Nothing is worse than beginning your day or permeating it with what’s wrong with the world. Go for a walk instead.
5. Hit the Internet. There are thousands of websites built on laughter, joy and inspiration. Start your work day with a visit to a site that cracks you up. Save a few URLs in your browser favorites to regularly visit.
6. Rent a movie that’s so funny it brings tears to your eyes. A good belly laugh will help you let go of body tension and stress and relax your entire body. Laughter also helps dissipate anxiety, anger and sadness.
7. Create a list of the ten funniest moments in your life. Revisit it often and add to it.
8. Whenever possible, surround yourself with happy, funny people, including your carefree inner child who doesn’t mind being silly once in a while.
Research on the physical and emotional benefits of laughter is ongoing.1 There is evidence that people who laugh frequently have healthier immune systems. Laughter also works as a means for relaxation that corresponds with a decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, making it good for the cardiovascular system.2 There is even a whole new field of wellness medicine, called Laughter Therapy that promotes the use of humor and laughter to improve physical, emotional, mental and social well-being.3
Is it no wonder that so many comedians live to a ripe old age? The bottom line? You need to make more room in your life for the lighter side. While you’re at it, why not indulge your funny bone with a trip to a comedy club over the holidays? A little comic relief will do your heart good.
Happy Holidays everyone!
1Strean WB. Laughter prescription. Can Fam Physician. 2009 Oct; 55(10): 965-967. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762283/
2 Bennett MP, Lengacher C. Humor and Laughter May Influence Health: III. Laughter and Health Outcomes. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Mar; 5(1):37-40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2249748/