You are reading: Serious challenges sometimes need laughter

June | Thought Leadership | Read time: calculating...

Serious challenges sometimes need laughter

As the adage goes, 'laughter is the best medicine'. Now, more than ever, we can't forget the power of laughter to bring people together or diffuse a stressful situation. When was the last time you had a good laugh with your team?


Last weekend I hit a hump, and it’s likely something you can relate to. I was tired of hanging around the house, doing chores, cooking meals, walking the same route with the dog, seeing the same faces… tired of the news and the fear around COVID-19. There are still big challenges to overcome. But there is also the sense of ‘same old, same old,’ working from home, days blending into nights, blending into weeks, blending into months.

And then… something made me laugh! Just a meme on Facebook that my son shared with me and I remembered something that has been true for me in times light and dark: Laughter is the Best Medicine.

It might be a well-worn phrase, but there is some truth to these wonderful words.

Laughter can change everything in a moment. A stressful situation, boredom, frustration, loneliness. But why does it feel so good to laugh? It’s a pretty weird physical response to absurdity, surprise or elation.

Babies begin to laugh very early in their development. They pay attention to their parents’ laughter and notice their facial expressions and uplifted mood. Parents often create ways or do things to make babies laugh to connect. The effect is to bond the baby to the source of laughter.

This connection shows that laughter is one of the earliest forms of communication, interaction and relationship building, used before we are able to speak.

Laughter brings people together. It’s an element of sharing and agreement. Many of us are returning to the office and are having to reintegrate with people we haven’t seen for more than three months. Some of our social niceties have not been as important while we’ve worked in isolation. We might be nervous and a bit hesitant about reconnecting. Perhaps it’s time to use and share humour to break the ice, to reconnect, to simply feel at home.

The things we find funny may differ, but laughter can re-energise, refocus and simply nurture oneself as we get back to business.

The benefits of laughter

There are real measured benefits of laughter, it:

  • Relaxes the whole body, by activating and relieving stress responses
  • Boosts the immune system, to soothe tension & relieve pain
  • Triggers the release of endorphins
  • Protects the heart – by stimulating organs
  • Burns calories
  • Lightens anger’s heavy load, improves mood, increases personal satisfaction
  • May help us live longer

Laughter is a powerful cue for social interaction, as well as a technique to change the mood of a difficult situation. It’s a way to diffuse a problem before it escalates.

Voluntary laughter can open communication in a non-threatening way. Well-honed comedians know that they can challenge the status quo, individual’s assumptions and even deeply held beliefs through humour as a way to relax people and lower their guard.

The effects of laughter

So, what makes you laugh? When you find something funny, bring attention to how it feels:

  • Physically
  • Emotionally
  • Mentally

What are the knock-on effects? Notice in terms of productivity levels, creativity, innovation, performance, and feelings of belonging and wellbeing.

We’ve all been experiencing different levels of isolation, due to COVID-19.  Have you found yourself being able to laugh on your own? Studies show that binge-watching sitcoms, comedians presenting stand-up virtually, late night tv shows and comedy specials, have helped a lot of us get through. However, according to observational studies by Prof Robert Provine, “laughter was 30 times more frequent in social situations than solitary ones. When alone, people were much more likely to talk to themselves or smile than to laugh.”

Now that we can get back to socialising in person, it’s time to share the benefits we know so well that come from laughter.

Laughter can play a part in solving some very serious problems. So, let’s do it together, and watch the effects of:

  • Strengthening Teams
  • Creating Social Bonds
  • Building Relationships
  • Connecting to others

Share dad jokes in meetings, funny posts, laugh at yourself OUT LOUD, start a laughter club, practice laughter yoga.

Find things that make you laugh and share them with others – postcards, movies, books, magazines, comedy clubs.


Give it a try, have some fun, and lighten the mood for everyone.


More on why you need to laugh more:

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1. Laughter overcoming challenges
2. Benefits of laughter
3. The effects of laughter