LAUGHTER IN THE FACE OF COVID-19

LAUGHTER IN THE FACE OF COVID-19

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh” George Bernard Shaw.

Laughter may not solve our problems, but it could help us cope with them. We have often heard that laughter is the best medicine. Perhaps now more than ever before, humor is needed as so many of us are practicing social distancing. As uncertainty and fear are embedded in our daily experience, we need healthy coping mechanisms.

When the Covid-19 virus reared its ugly head in The United States several weeks ago, it didn’t feel like a laughing matter. People are dying globally.  Fear of a virus that we knew little about certainly isn’t funny to anyone. Not to the people diagnosed with the virus or the healthcare professionals on the front lines trying to figure out treatment protocols. When the funny posts on social media began flooding my news feed, I thought these posts were insensitive and inappropriate. Then I began to chuckle or giggle, I still felt a little guilty. As though I was a traitor to the seriousness of Covid -19 and my fellow human beings.

Recently I began to look at circumstances differently. I am not trapped in my home alone, but I am practicing physical distancing to save lives. This is what needs to be done to flatten the curve of this pandemic and to reduce exposure to the most vulnerable populations. Maybe it’s OK to laugh and find moments of joy even under the worst of circumstances. What can I learn about myself when I am spending so much time with me?

Laugher and exercise have very similar benefits. I know that walking to get in my 10,000 daily steps would help reduce stress, but I forgot the benefits of laughing.  Laughter reduces stress by creating neuropeptides. These are signaling molecules that influence the activity in the brain. I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, but they are linked to serotonin and that’s a good thing. So now I am adding a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. The medicine is laughter. I am revisiting a trip to Mayberry on ME TV, rereading Nora Ephron, giggling at social posts with Zoom bloopers. How about watching a family fun film like Toy Story or the Three Stooges? (Resources: Reuters). Laughter through tears can be an amazingly cathartic experience.

What am I leaning about myself? I am learning to understand that humor is important and has a place in our world.  Making fun of others and the tragedy of this pandemic is not funny at all. But seeing the humor in trying to reconfigure a healthy life alone at home and finding joy in very simple things can be wonderfully humorous. Yes, we are about to find out my natural air color and my dog wants to know why I am home disturbing his usual nap routine with long walks. We are blessed to have family and friends that we can laugh with. The internet is our lifeline as we are social creatures. Sending humor and virtual hugs to you all!

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