Laugh out loud

"I laughed. I cried. I rolled my eyes."

That's my 8-word review of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. My daughter and I just saw it, and while I found some parts of the film to be super corny, we really enjoyed ourselves. There were several times that we laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face.

I didn't realize how much I needed a good laugh until I got one.

Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress. In The How of Happiness, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky writes, "Even--or perhaps especially--in the face of stressful events, smiling and laughter can help 'undo' negative emotions, distract, and bring about feelings of peace, amusement, or even joy. In one study, people who had lost their spouses six months earlier were interviewed and asked to reminisce about their marriages. Those who laughed spontaneously during the interviews reported coping much better with their bereavement and experiencing more enjoyment in their lives, less anger, and more positive relationships with others. It was as though the laughter helped them 'dissociate' from their distress. Other work has shown that laughter can lower stress hormones, and even the expectation of laughter can elevate beneficial hormones."

I have several friends going through really stressful situations right now. Sometimes I feel helpless in those situations, but I've learned that making others laugh can provide them with valuable relief. When my marriage feels off balance, I look for ways my husband and I can enjoy a laugh. Watching funny movies or short videos or listening to a humorous podcast eases tension and gives us a shared experience which then provides a way for us to have a meaningful conversation and regain our footing. Laughter plays an important part in my relationship with my kids too, especially when it feels like none of us can say the right thing.

Feeling stressed? Out of balance? Seeking connection? Look for ways to laugh out loud.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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