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Can Laughter Really Help?

August 24, 2022

by Dr. April Steen, PhD, LCSW

As I began to reflect on what to share in this blog post so many ideas came to mind. What could or would be helpful at this time and could be useful months or years from now. I landed on self-care and the idea of humor. What role they play in our stories. With that in mind and the classic introductions of some of the great stories…once upon a time; tale as old as time the list goes on and on. Yet when we begin to tell some stories we find some humor.

Too often we work hard at giving to others with little regard to our own needs. Any savoy business owner would tell you that is not sustainable! To serve others, we must be reasonably healthy and happy ourselves. What can we do to get on the best path to live our best lives? Or get the Happily Ever After in our story?

When tensions fill the air, humans tend to rely on quick jokes and nervous laughter. Vast research exists supporting a variety of responses to paradox, including using humor. Humor creates two response paths to paradoxical thoughts: we either dig in (entrench) or we shift our thoughts (Jarzabkowski, P., Lê, J. K., & Van de Ven, A. H., 2013).

How do we balance the diversity and complexity of our faith and self-care in this modern world? How do we tell our stories? If you search the internet you will find a variety of resources around self-care. The classic versions of you have to pour into yourself in order to give to others or put your own oxygen mask on before helping others or my personal favorite, you have to put money in the bank to cover the checks you write.

Self-care in the form of laughter allows us to build stronger social connections, reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure. The Mayo Clinic states that laughter is a great stress reliever. Moreover, laughing improves mood, relieves pain, deepens our sense of satisfaction with life and can even boost immunity (and with all the germs floating around out there who doesn’t want to boost their immune system?)

Since in may be back to school season in your daily routine or you just want to brush up on your self care routines for the fall, take a moment to consider adding daily laughter to your goals at home and your workplace. Keep in mind that different strategies work for different people and it is important to have a plan in place. Some steps include: prayer, meditation, exercise, sleep more, work less and take up a hobby.

If you or someone you know needs help finding the voice to their story or needing assistance on firming up a self-care plan then remember you are not alone and there are resources in the community. Ask any therapist- they have some excellent suggestions. My hope for you is that you take a moment and find the laughter in life and even in the times when it seems hard to laugh! Stay on your path and seek out support as needed.


Jarzabkowski, P., Lê, J. K., & Van de Ven, A. H. (2013). Responding to competing strategic demands: How organizing, belonging, and performing paradoxes coevolve. Strategic Organization, 11, 245–280.

Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke The Mayo Clinic. Accessed August 3, 2022.

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