It might have been the afternoon I was distractedly pumping gas, heard another customer’s pump beep in completion, and yanked my own gas pump out of the car halfway through filling my tank –spraying my car and my shoes and everything in the vicinity with gasoline like the epic Zoolander scene– that I realized something strange was happening to my brain. Or maybe it was the night I was at a friend’s house and Door Dashed an order from a restaurant that is literally 30 feet from her front door. Yup, not only did I pay delivery fees and wait an extra thirty minutes for this “convenience”, the delivery guy couldn’t find parking and ended up calling me to grab the order from his car! I actually walked PAST the restaurant to collect my food from the driver, barely able to speak through my embarrassed laughter.
If quarantine, Covid fears, and insecurity about what the future holds has you losing your mind…and your keys…and your phone…and your temper…You’re not alone. Stress puts a ton of pressure on the brain, and our thinking can get extremely fuzzy in this state of cognitive overload. Not only does this type of stress adversely affect our sense of peace and ability to focus, it negatively impacts our immune system.
Here’s where humor comes in. It’s no coincidence that the popularity of funny memes has skyrocketed during this unique time in human history. Jokes about parents becoming homeschool teachers, nonstop mask wearing, and the tiger king have been providing real comfort during crisis, and there’s science to back it up. Just as stress negatively impacts the immune system, humor provides some benefits. One minute of laughter can boost your immune system for over 24 hours, according to one study.
It can be difficult to find or even feel inclined to look for humor when stress is running high, but it’s the most important and impactful time to do so. Replace an hour of news with an episode of Schitt’s Creek. Call your funniest friend or fall down a silly pet video rabbit hole on TikTok. Or my personal favorite, practice laughing at yourself more. Try not to wait to find the humor in life’s idiosyncrasies or in your own screw-ups. Be your own source of laughter and you’ll never be at a loss for some much-needed stress relief.