How Humor Can Ease COVID-19 Anxiety Reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW

We’ve all heard the popular saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” But does that type of thinking apply to something as serious as a global pandemic? Most psychologists would say yes. Humor helps people take back their sense of power in a powerless situation and it helps them connect with others—two things we have lost during this pandemic.

And although there is nothing particularly funny about what we’re going through, science suggests that those funny memes, crazy TikTok videos, and snarky online quotes may be just what we need to ease the overwhelming fear, anxiety, and grief many of us are dealing with on a daily basis.

Even loneliness has become as crushing as the pandemic itself threatening to overwhelm people every day. Clearly, we need something to lighten the stress load we’re all experiencing. And humor could be just what the doctor ordered.

How People Benefit From Laughing

Obviously, the seriousness of COVID-19 is no laughing matter. People are dying every day, and those in the medical field are being stretched beyond what any person should have to bear. But, we all need to find a way to cope with the dangers and limitations we’re facing or risk serious mental health consequences.

For some, the answer may be laughter. In fact, laughter activates important feel-good hormones in the brain while also reducing stress-related hormones like cortisol.

Laughter also increases the number of antibody-producing cells we have working in our bodies. And, it enhances our T-cells, which are at the core of adaptive immunity and help tailor our immune response. All of this equates to a stronger immune system.

Research also indicates that humor benefits both a person’s physical and psychological state. In fact, studies show that humor has the ability to provide pain relief, improve positive emotions, regulate stress, disengage from distress, and improve interpersonal communications. And, according to the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor, people experience a 39% reduction in stress just by anticipating humor.

There also is a physical release that comes through laughter—it’s a cleansing sort of feeling that impacts us both physically and emotionally. Most people feel really good after laughing. In fact, many people report that they feel like a weight has been lifted. And, at a time when so much is weighing us down, it can be very therapeutic to engage in some good-natured humor.

Ways to Add Humor to Your Life

Laughter is a free and easy stress management tool that can be used by just about anyone to lighten the mood and improve mental health. Here are some ways to add a little humor into your life during this challenging time.

Subscribe to Funny YouTube Channels

There’s nothing funnier than watching goofy pet videos. Even videos of babies doing silly things can be entertaining. So, if you’re feeling a little down and want a good laugh, just log onto YouTube and search “popular comedy” or “funny videos.” You’re bound to find something that will make you laugh. Or, you may want to subscribe to regular YouTubers that make a living making others laugh. Then, you will have a regular stream of funny videos ready to go in your inbox.

If you’re wondering what to look for, you might try Good Mythical Morning. You also could check out the Holderness Family, Kristin and Danny Adams, and or even Heather Land’s “I Ain’t Doin It.” Bad Lip Reading of the NFL is usually good for a few laughs too. The options are endless.

Watch Comedians Online

Countless numbers of comedians are offering their comedy routines online. Even with social distancing measures in place, many are still putting out new material.

All the regulars like Jimmy Fallon, Steven Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel are producing regular material that is readily available. Simply do a quick search to find the latest material or watch some older versions. And let’s not forget about the copious amounts of content available on Hulu, HBO, and Netflix. Just head over to the comedy section and laugh until your sides hurt.

Share Old Stories

Nothing’s better than sharing stories about funnier times. Whether you’re on Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime, it’s fun to remember the old days and laugh about the silly things you did.

Plus, sharing those old stories together helps strengthen bonds and reminds you of how much you have to be thankful for.

So, the next time you’re talking with a friend or family member, share a “Remember when” story. It’s sure to bring a smile to both your faces.

Tell Jokes

There’s nothing better than “Dad jokes.” They are so silly and cringe-worthy that they are bound to make you laugh. So, if you want to crack up your kids or make your co-workers giggle during the next Zoom meeting, do a quick search of Dad jokes and see what you can come up with.

Or, maybe you could have a contest among your family members to see who can tell the best joke each night at dinner. A good pun is also always a solid way to make someone smile.

Play Games

If you’re staying at home with family members, try playing a fun board game together. It doesn’t take long for everyone to forget about the stresses of everyday life when you’re engaged in a game of Loaded Questions. Even strategy games like Monopoly and Sequence can lighten a dull mood and bring a little laughter into your home.

If you happen to be sequestered alone, try organizing an online game party. For instance, Jackbox Games offers a wide variety of digital platforms that people can purchase and download games to play remotely. Then, they can set up game parties with as many as eight people.

Laugh at Yourself

There are lots of things you’re probably doing that if you stepped back and really looked at them, you would find they are actually quite funny. Maybe it’s the way your face mask makes your hair stick out on the sides. Or maybe it’s the fact that you walked past your partner’s Zoom meeting in your pajamas. Or, it could be the fact that you filmed a video for work without realizing that your giant cutout of Captain America is standing in the background.

Everyone does silly things. The key is to laugh at yourselves a little bit. Because when you laugh, others take it as a cue to laugh as well.

Create or Watch TikTok Videos

TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps out there. And during this pandemic, people are taking to it in droves creating their own funny takes on everything from staying at home to the toilet paper shortage.

In the meantime, TikTok has created donation stickers that allow online creators to raise money for coronavirus relief efforts. And even those in the medical field are using the app to get important information to younger users. So, if you’ve got a few extra minutes and want a good laugh, download the app, and have fun.

A Word From Verywell

Humor is mankind’s built-in coping mechanism that distracts us from the difficulty of the situation we are living and allows us to release some built-up tension. It’s a type of mental armor that allows us to manage the unmanageable.

So, go ahead and laugh at those funny pet videos or turn on a rerun of America’s Funniest Home Videos. A good, solid belly laugh may be exactly what you need to lighten the mood, relieve some stress, and feel better overall.

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