As the old saying goes, "laughter is the best medicine." According to science, it's true. When dealing with tragic events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, finding a way to laugh, can be helpful to ourselves and others.
The humor must be appropriate, of course.
Neuroscientist V.S. Rakmachandran says that humor is a "mature defense mechanism" that can be seen alongside other defenses such as patience, humility, mindfulness, tolerance, and forgiveness.
He says that humor can give us a sense of control over traumatizing events and helps people deal with conflicting thoughts and emotions.
According to What's Your Grief? Humor and laughter increase the production of dopamine, endorphins, T-cells, and immune proteins which may contribute to the following: strengthened immune function, stress reduction, decreased feelings of depression and anxiety, and elevated mood.
It also helps us put things in perspective and increases our problem-solving abilities.
Graeme Parsons, a father of two in Regina Saskatchewan, has been spreading some levity in his neighborhood during the pandemic by posting dad jokes on a whiteboard in his driveway every morning.
"It's a crazy world we're living in right now and there is so much negative all over social media and through the media. It's a way to start brightening the days of people walking by in my neighborhood," Parsons told Global News Canada.
He said the response has been overwhelming.
"It's been absolutely amazing; it's been extremely positive. Everybody in the neighborhood, I see them walking by day after day coming in to check the sign," Parsons said.
"There's people taking pictures of it, sending it to their parents who don't live here," he added.
The jokes have become so popular he's posting them on Instagram, where he has nearly 1000 followers. "In a time of a world wide pandemic, humour can unite us all. Be safe. Be healthy. Stay strong. We will get through this together," the page's bio reads.
(Note: we said they were popular, not necessarily funny.)
Parsons says that the big reason he's posting the jokes is to bring some smiles to people's faces during such trying times.
"I'll continue as long as people keep enjoying it and smiling and as long as people need laughter, which I don't think ever goes out of style," Parsons said.
"There's plenty of material and smiles to pass around."
There's a scientific reason as to why people are responding to Parson's dad jokes. Research shows that humor increases bonding among family and friends, enhances teamwork, helps diffuse conflict, and boosts morale.
So when you see someone indulging a bit of gallows humor during the crisis, don't feel bad, laugh along. They're actually helping us get through a tough time.
Here's a message of gratitude from Parsons.
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