Did you know that research has proven that humor – a belly laugh, a silly joke or a comedy – is healing? Turns out, it’s a great coping tool when grieving the death of someone you love.
In our programs, we talk about how crying can be a great coping tool because it can help us release emotions. Hitting a pillow or something soft or the act of ripping up a phone book can help to let out feelings of anger. But one that we don’t talk about as much is humor or laughter.
Research shows that the physical act of laughing releases endorphins, which also when we exercise or eat our favorite foods. When we do happy things, endorphins are released then, too. These endorphins help our bodies deal with pain and stress, boosting your energy, stimulating your circulation in your heart, your lungs, and your muscles; and increasing your intake of oxygen-rich air. Think of what Elle Woods said, “Endorphins make you happy.”
And sometimes our bodies even react involuntarily to stress with laughter. Have you ever been in an awkward situation and you just start laughing for no reason? That’s actually our body’s reaction to being in a stressful situation, like the fight-or-flight response. Sometimes our bodies react with laughter to release those endorphins when our brain knows our bodies need that release, even if sometimes that happens in really awkward moments or times when you wish that it wouldn’t.
At SandCastles, we know that finding the joy in our grief and looking for ways to enjoy life after loss is incredibly important. So allow yourself to take a break from those difficult emotions of grief to share a happy memory or a funny story. It’s literally healing to your body and soul.
When we think of those moments, the funny ones or the happy ones, whether we reflect on them ourselves or someone shares them with us, our brains know what to do. Endorphins kick in, they react to that humor and it helps us to reduce the pain that we feel.
The great thing about humor and laughter is that it’s free. It’s universally available. It’s all natural. You can’t have too much of it and it has no side effects. The gift of laughter through the sharing of funny memories or entertaining stories is one of the greatest free gifts that you can give to someone. It will literally make a difference in their mental health and emotional well-being.