Sometimes stress can get the better of us. It can be easy to fall into a spiral of negativity if we choose not to guard ourselves against its tenacious grip. News outlets inundate us with images and commentary on crises and catastrophes occurring at any given moment. A coworker makes a nasty remark. The dog chewed up your socks, your kid is having a tantrum in the store, and your partner was grumpy this morning. You spent 6 months saving for a vacation and have to use the money for a home repair and why for the love of God is this person driving so slow?!
It's important to remember that everyone feels stressed at times, so know that you are not alone. The coworker who snapped at you might be feeling overwhelmed. Your grumpy partner could be having a rough week. Try not to internalize negativity that others project onto you. If you find yourself feeling stressed most of the time it's a sign to reevaluate something in your life. Something is out of whack and needs to be whacked back into place or whacked out of your life altogether.
In the meantime, we must ask ourselves how we can be proactive instead of reactive when we are in a "funk." Since we know that we will most likely feel stressed at some point, it is good practice to have a plan to decompress. There are many ways to reduce stress, which is totally necessary because stress is a killer. Literally.
Laughter is my favorite way to reduce feelings of negativity because I can do it almost anywhere, at any time. Lee and Kleiner explain that laughter has psychological, organizational, and physiological benefits; among other things, laughter boosts endorphins, increases feelings of sociability, and lowers blood pressure.
So, how can we integrate more humor into our lives?
Falkenberg, Buchremer, Bartels, and Wild have a great list of ideas:
Although laughter may just increase mood in the short-term, remember that life is only made up of moments. By choosing to incorporate a sense of lightness and humor into more moments, you give yourself an opportunity to make it through life’s inevitable difficulties a little easier. Personally, I resonate with Allie Brosh's story about unexpectedly finding humor amidst a relentless bout of depression... by discovering a piece of corn under her refrigerator. Thinking of that story when I feel crummy reminds me that silliness can be a powerful antidote to the occasional harshness of life. What works for you? Do you find it difficult to pause and find humor when life gets too serious?