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Laughing can help as coping mechanism during tough times, Cleveland Clinic says

Not losing your sense of humor can help guide you through the uneasy times the pandemic has caused.

CLEVELAND — It may be difficult to find something to laugh about since the global coronavirus pandemic has flipped the world upside down, but laughter is just what the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have ordered. 

"Humor is considered to be a very sophisticated psychological defense against tension and threat, and so, I think doses of humor are good for us," Cleveland Clinic Main Campus psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD, said in a blog post on the Clinic's website. "Humor is a way to activate good brain chemistry, and actually protect ourselves with better immune function — it is really good medicine." 

Laughing has been linked to easing tension, lowering blood pressure and stress, and improving sleep quality, among other things, according to the blog post. Humor is also a great release from pent up emotions that can serve as an alternative to falling into bad habits such as excessive snacking.

"One of the best reasons to laugh right now is that it helps prevent emotional eating," psychologist Susan Albers-Bowling, PsyD, of the Clinic's Wooster Family Health Center location, said. "When we laugh, it triggers the release of feel-good neurotransmitters. Even a subtle smile can trick your brain into thinking you are happy — thus reducing the need to munch to soothe your nerves or anxiety."

Some ways to introduce humor into your daily routine include finding a new podcast that makes you laugh, looking at old photographs, or watching a comedy on your favorite streaming platform when you're feeling stressed out or sad.