Mental health and humour
Mental health and humour go hand in hand. When we nurture a sense of humour and take life less seriously, we can help our mental state enormously. In fact. it would seem that the mental health profession (those in the know) and far more open to ‘playful therapy’, fun and laughter as a way to lighten life’s load and ease mental stress and tension. There’s even a group of psychologists who dedicate their time to promoting the use of humour in a psychiatric setting. The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) is a group of experts who actively promote the use of laughter in the treatment of serious mental illness.
Laughter and a sense of humour can be a great antidote to stress, anxiety and depression. The limbic system (the amygdala and hippocampus) is involved in all emotions, including laughter. The amygdala plays an important role in the processing of friendship, love and affection, and mood, the hypothalamus is a major contributor to loud, uncontrollable laughter.
Laughter reduces mental tension and increases energy, enabling you to stay focused and accomplish more. Both sides of the brain are stimulated during laughing encouraging clarity, humor and creativity and better problem solving ability.
Laughter releases endorphins which make us feel happy and boost our immune system and decrease pain. Gelotology – or the study of laughter – has long sought scientific answers to the potential health benefits of laughing.
One study, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that laughter yoga was more effective in alleviating the effects of depression in older women than normal exercise
So the scientific community is clear that laughter is good for your mental health, but it doesn’t simply stop there. There’s a lot more that comedy can do to help with mental illness. Find things to laugh about, play and have fun.
Life doesn’t have to be that serious and humour is a fantastic coping mechanism that can heal and ease the harshness of life.
“Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy.” – Catherine Rippenger Fenwick