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
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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: April 17-21

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: April 17-21

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on IRIS.xyz, April 17-21, 2017 


Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!


1. Market Keeping You up at Night? Look for the Right Hedge


Like so many others in the industry, I was wrong. For years, I was certain that the bull market was nearing its end. I thought the market was over-extended, and that, surely, the wild equities run was coming to an end. But everyone else was bullish, and perhaps rightfully so. And while I’ve watched equities continue on their spectacular rise, I do think now is the time (really!) to put a hedge in place. Here’s why. Here’s how. — Adam Patti

2. How to Manage Bond Market Pain and Seek the Gain When Rates Are Rising


The realities for fixed income investors have changed. How is this being reflected in markets? Bond investing has become increasingly difficult over the past decade. Markets have been heavily distorted by ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing, as well as by extreme risk aversion in response to the global economic crisis and the eurozone debt crisis. — Nick Gartside

3. Seven Reasons You'll Fail as a Financial Advisor


Is being a financial advisor worth it? I am an optimistic person and I encourage other people to keep a positive mental attitude (shout-out to Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone). However, by taking a good, hard look at the negatives in life, we can successfully pivot towards the positive aspects that will help us achieve our goals. — James Pollard

4. The Secret to Turning Every Prospect into a Client


How do you treat one of your most valued, existing clients? Here’s a list of some things that come to mind. — Andrew Sobel

5. Why Do Clients Change Advisors?


According to many advisors I speak with, the only clients that leave are those who have died. And while attrition may not be a big problem in this industry, I have to assume that at least a few clients change advisors without doing so via the funeral home. — Julie Littlechild

6. Why You Should Focus on Getting Referral Sources


I was talking with an advisor last week about how to get into conversations about what he does. He was relaying the story of going jogging with a friend who could be a good client but is, more importantly, connected to a large network of people who fit this advisors ideal client description. — Stephen Wershing

7. How Big Picture Thinkers Seize More Opportunities in 7 Steps


Big picture thinkers are not unicorns - rare and mystical. And they were not born with the innate ability to think big. They do, however, pay attention to the broader landscape and take the time to think, analyze and evaluate. — Jill Houtman and Danny Domenighini

8. 5 Actions to Build Your Reputation


Your reputation is who you are and how you show up, Monday to Monday®.  Many of us take our image and reputation for granted.  Give careful thought to the kind of reputation that you would be proud of Monday to Monday® and that would resonate with your purpose and priorities. — Stacey Hanke

9. How Are You Poised to Begin Welcoming GenZ to Your Workplace?


The generational changing of the guard is a fact of life as old as time. Young replaces old in responsibility, importance, control and culture. Outside of the family, the workplace is perhaps where this is seen most regularly by most people. — Shirley Engelmeier

10. Are Price Objections REALLY Price Objections?


Next time you hear your prospects give you price objections, it’s not because of the price. The give price objections because they don’t know the full value proposition that they’d be paying for. And it’s not based on their need, or your features and functions. It’s based on the buying criteria they want to meet internally. — Sofia Carter

11. Understanding the Economic Value of Transition Deals


Last week we wrote about the economic rationale behind going independent vs. moving to another major firm as an employee. As a follow-up topic, we thought it prudent to analyze transition packages attached to big firm moves and peel back the layers of the onion to show the components of these deals. — Louis Diamond

Douglas Heikkinen
Perspective
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IRIS 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 to ... Click for full bio