There is a centuries-old idiom that says, ‘laughter is the best medicine’. The saying isn’t just a quaint proverb that looks good painted on an old piece of driftwood. It is actually true. Laughter really can help you feel better when feelings of anxiety or depression get the best of you. Give it a try.
As a specialist in depression and anxiety therapy, I am fully aware that in some cases of clinical depression and anxiety, it is very difficult for a patient to find anything to laugh about. But such cases are the exception to the rule. Most of us can find something to laugh about. Most of us have a sense of humor that can be tickled in just the right way if we are willing to let it happen.
Humor Therapy Is a Real Thing
Believe it or not, humor therapy is a real thing. So much so that researchers in China recently took a good look at 29 previous studies assessing the effectiveness of the therapy as a treatment for anxiety and depression. The studies collectively involved nearly 3,000 participants from the U.S., South Korea, Israel, China, Australia, and several European countries.
To make a long story short, the research revealed that humor can positively impact a person’s physical and mental well-being, both directly and indirectly. Their data leads to the conclusion that humor, in multiple forms, really does make a difference. It seems to be especially helpful for those with mild cases of depression and anxiety.
Look at the Lighter Side of Life
During anxiety and depression therapy sessions, we often need to deal with the darker side of life. But a person trying to overcome depression or anxiety doesn’t need to live there. In fact, constantly living on the dark side means constantly feeling the weight of negativity. But there is a lighter side to life. That is the side of life to live on.
What is it that makes you smile? Is there a particular type of humor that makes you laugh? Whatever it is that might inspire positive thoughts and feelings in you is the thing on which you should focus. If there is more than one thing, embrace them all.
When you start to feel down, steer your mind toward whatever makes you laugh. Tell yourself a favorite joke. Sing a silly song to yourself. Stand in front of the mirror and make a funny face. If you can find a way to laugh, you will feel better in the moment.
Laughter Can Change Your Mindset
Have you ever been to a comedy concert or watched one on TV? Assuming the comedian was genuinely funny, you probably walked away from that concert with a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Chances are you felt pretty good for the rest of the day. That is because laughter changes your mindset.
In truth, this is really what overcoming anxiety or depression is all about. In professional depression and anxiety therapy, we teach patients how to change their mindsets. It is not something most people accomplish overnight, but it is something that can be accomplished with practice.
More Positive Equals Less Negative
We want to leave you with one last thought: your mind and heart can only contain so much. The more positive you can get in, the less room there will be for the negative. So focus your mind on things that make you laugh. Whether or not laughter is truly the best medicine, it certainly can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.