OPINION

Preserving our sense of humour during COVID

Preserving our sense of humour during COVID

In these testing times, we're growing weary. A telltale sign? Our loss of humour.

When the pandemic began, a virtual "pundemic" was unleashed. Social media was awash with memes about toilet paper and working from home.

Now, several months later - with parts of the country still under restrictions and the economy in recession - the collective pulse of joy is simmering.

It's only human to feel a little glum from time to time but maintaining a humorous outlook in stressful or adverse situations is something we can't afford to lose.

While all might not be perfect in our external world, much freedom lies in how we respond.

Seriousness might appear a more appropriate response to our upended world, yet humour, laughter and playfulness help foster resilience, providing a coping strategy to help better manage and reduce stress.

Cultivating a humour or laughter mindset, where we choose to empower the light within, is an important tool to build connection and gain some mastery over things we can't control.

It's linked to positive psychological wellbeing and resilience, satisfaction with life, and an optimistic outlook.

It also has physical benefits, improving heart health, reducing blood pressure and aiding muscle relaxation.

When we laugh or smile about something, the mind is anchored to a moment of positivity.

Negativity in the shape of fear, depression or anxiety has no footing.

Learning to laugh at yourself, reframing stressful situations with more levity, or finding the funny in a stressful situation develops personal resilience. It demonstrates there's another way to respond to adversity or stress.

So how can we reconnect to our laughter self? How can we cultivate a more positive or optimistic internal environment?

Take a break from the news and immerse yourself in a sit-com or comedy.

Wherever possible choose to spend time (virtual and real) with people that buoy your spirits and make you smile and laugh.

Build your humour capacity by finding and sharing the funny at meal times with household members.

The more we train our humour muscle, the stronger our neural pathways towards positivity and humour become, so in the future we'll have expanded our resources to respond with more levity.

Let's ensure we empower our sixth sense: humour.

While it can't physically embrace you like a hug, it can guide and uplift you through unsettling times.

Ros Ben-Moshe is an adjunct lecturer at La Trobe University, and positivity, resilience and wellbeing coach at LaughLife Wellbeing Programs.