Many people initially see a counselor because of job stress . . . either from the work itself or from the stress of dealing with difficult people at work. But stress really needs to be dealt with in the beginning stages, before it becomes destructive. Many advocates of positive mental health have long emphasized the need to lighten up — and humor is one of the best ways to do that!
We feel good when we laugh. In fact, it’s almost impossible to feel bad when we laugh. Research shows that humor and laughter can even help us recover from the extreme distress of life-changing losses. When a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley studied widows and widowers whose spouses had died six months before, he found that those who were able to laugh within weeks of their loved one’s passing displayed less stress and many
more positive emotions two to four years later. Incorporating humor and laughter into the many stresses of everyday life can help us to not only survive, but also thrive and be better able to handle whatever comes our way.
Laughter elevates natural mood-enhancing endorphins and releases the feel-good brain chemical dopamine. At the same time, laughter turns down our stress hormone spigot. Studies show it also significantly lowers the chemical cortisol, which is associated with negative stress. After exposure to humor, there is a general increase in our immune system activity.
Scripture lists joy as the second fruit of the Spirit and states: “a merry heart does good like medicine” Proverbs 17:22; and John 15:11 says: Christ wanted His “joy to be full in them“.
Joy and happiness can be increased and stress levels lowered by learning to see the bright side; increasing exposure to humorous videos, books, and magazines; sharing humor with fellow workers; being around lighthearted people; and most important, praying for more of the joy of the Lord!
Other helpful hints to reduce stress are to get a good night’s sleep, have quality nutrition, participate in daily exercise, learn to manage difficult people, have a daily dose of play, and take life one day at a time!
Bringing in lots of joy and laughter at work and at home can go a long way towards preventing personal distress, depression, and general malaise. And those around us will be encouraged and refreshed by our cheerful attitude. As Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength!“