5 Ways to Find Humor in Stressful Situations

5 Ways to Find Humor in Stressful Situations

I find it quite funny that April happens to be recognized as both Humor Month and Stress Awareness Month around the globe. And just by finding it funny, my brain shifts into a more optimal state for the day ahead. Let me explain…
 

Stress is what happens when the demands on our time and energy exceed our perceived capacity. When we have what we need to adapt effectively, this stimulus for change leads to growth. It’s what we call tame or tolerable stress, and it’s actually beneficial to the development of our brain and body. When we don’t have or don’t think we have the resources we need to meet the expectations or tasks of our day, our brains shift into survival mode, which hijacks our energy and attention to focus only on what’s seems most important in the moment. Unfortunately, without intention this usually means we’re stuck in a fear state, pumping out stress hormones that we don’t actually use, building up toxic inflammation in our body that breaks us down over time and ironically blocks our ability to problem solve effectively.

What’s funny about that?
 

I think it’s hysterical. What was designed to help us survive danger is now actually the cause of danger. Maybe not funny in a “ha, ha” kind of way, but the kind of humor that makes you go hmm. Here’s the good news. If you can find the funny in a situation like that, allow your brain to see the comedic irony and just pause to reflect for a moment, you will actually begin to release the grasp of stress and shift into a better state of mind. This doesn’t mean we ignore what’s negative in life, but we also allow ourselves to slow down enough to embrace the adventure of it all.

A powerful shift for stress reduction
 

Studies have shown that finding things funny reduces the production of stress hormones, decreases inflammation in the body, improves memory and cognitive capacity, allowing us to problem solve more creatively over time. And it turns out that seeing funny is a skill that can be developed; just like any other mental muscle you train over time. If you’re constantly looking for what’s wrong in your life, you are guaranteed to see it more often. But regularly seek out things you find funny, curious or interesting and you’ll notice life becomes much more amazing and amusing every day.

Build your mirth muscle
 

Humor can be divided into three types of experience: the physical expression of humor is laughter, the mental navigation that occurs when we recognize humor may be referred to as wit, and the emotional delight we feel is called mirth. When we allow ourselves to fully feel the internal giggle of something funny, there are hundreds of chemical changes that occur — shifting our state from surviving to thriving. All measures of cognitive performance improve, as our neurons are nudge towards expressing creativity, insight and innovation and turning down the noise of the stress response. Try it for yourself right now. Check out this baby laughing, and see if you notice a shift in your state of mind, and body.

By using humor strategically, actually planning time to experience things you find funny on a regular basis, you build a mental muscle that is more in tune to the humor of your day. Just like anything else you pay attention to, you experience more of what you focus your mind to see. So if you want to have more fun, play, and laughter in your life be proactive about putting things in your path that will shift you in that direction. Here are a few quick techniques to try:

  1. Share a funny image with a friend every day via text message.
  2. Add a funny cartoon to your email signature.
  3. Create a funny playlist with videos you enjoy to watch during your morning and afternoon recharge break.
  4. Go on a walk and look for things to find funny.
  5. Find a funny podcast or YouTube channel to listen to each evening to reset your brain to relax.
     

The best way to create a new habit is to enlist the support of a friend, so ask someone to be your humor buddy and commit to share things you find funny as often as you can. Each time you receive your humor nudge you’ll be reminded to stop and reflect, and when you share you’ll not only find funny yourself you’ll know that you’re contributing to help recharge someone you care about. The more we commit to shift our stress for good, the more positive and calm our world will become. Little neural nudges can make a big difference when we’re all practicing together. And the more we can all see funny, the better we can collaborate to solve the stress of the world.

Heidi Hanna
Human Performance
Twitter Email

Dr. Heidi Hanna has been featured at many national and global conferences, including the Fortune Magazine Most Powerful Women in Business Summit, ESPN Women’s Leadership Sum ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: May 22-26

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: May 22-26

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on IRIS.xyz, May 22-26, 2017 


Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!


1. Capturing the Attention of Millennials: Be Relevant and Digital


I know Gen Y are stereotyped as being transient, digital natives who are impossible to capture, but that is just the world we live in today. Technology has caused a proliferation of advancements and the financial services industry is (or should be) feeling the pressure ... — Missy Pohlig

2. Factor in a Smarter Approach to ETFs


Combining an alternatively-weighted index with a multi-factor stock screening process can diversify uncompensated risk, potentially leading to less volatility in down markets and an overall smoother experience for investors. But what are factors and why should they be a major consideration for every ETF investor? — J.P. Morgan Asset Management

3.  Don't MAKE the List ... DO the List


There is something gratifying about jotting down all the things you need to do. It quenches one’s thirst for being organized and for wanting some control over one’s life generally complicated by too many things to do with insufficient time and financial resources to do them. — Roy Osing

4. Smart Financial Advice for Those New College Graduates


College graduation is a time of celebration and pride. It’s also a time of significant financial transitions—for new graduates as well as their parents. As an advisor, this is a great opportunity to connect with your NextGen clients to help them make smart decisions that position them for greater financial success throughout their working lives and even into retirement. — Laura McCarron

5. Advisors: Why You Need to Show off Your Bench


Let your prospects see what working with you will be like, including exactly who will be holding their hand along the way. — Paul Kingsman

6. Why Investors Should Have Confidence in the Future of Investment Management


How should investors feel with all the advances in robotics and technology in our industry in the near future? — John Alshefski

7. 2 Things to Take Your Business From Startup Into A Great Business


Want to know how to grow your business fast? Discover here two things that you need to smash in order for you to take your business from startup to a great business. — Stewart Bell​​​​​​​

8. The #1 Marketing Asset Every Financial Advisor Should Hold in the Portfolio


Unlike many other industries, most people in finance confront the reality on a daily basis that a market downturn they have no control over could cast them out onto the street. — Sara Grillo

9. The Gutless Generation: How Risk Aversion Is Inhibiting Millennial Success


One year after I risked everything to launch my own venture, I penned a short article chronicling my journey up to that point. One commenter responded with near-vitriol, wondering how I could be so misguided as to influence – encourage, even – others of my generation to take on extensive levels of risk in order to successfully launch a new business. — Brian Hart

10. Are Your Marketing Priorities Out of Whack?


People are automating hellos and introductions instead of taking 3 seconds to personally do it. Folks are requiring followbacks if they give you one. Everyone believes that ads are the answer. And business owners think they know what’s best for their social channels. — Ahna Hendrix​​​​​​​

11. 10 Steps to Successful Strategic Alliances


Business growth doesn’t come from wishful thinking. As you know, it takes a lot of hard work. The growth of your business is not an option – it is a necessity. Coordinating the right mix of strategies to gain market share and improve client acquisition rates is essential to advance your firm in today’s economy. — Michelle Mosher

Douglas Heikkinen
Perspective
Twitter Email

IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio