Have you ever had one of those absolute moments of laughter when you lose control of your body? Shoulders shaking, sides aching, head thrown back, tears streaming from your eyes, absolute release of every energy in your body moments of laughter? They happen so rarely in our lives, and are so precious when they do.
Laughter acts as a perfect release for so many emotions: happiness, anger, stress, disdain, nerves. It’s also good for building links with people, creating cohesion over shared moments. As a teacher I used to like making my children laugh when they needed to learn a fact or were conscious of having made a mistake. Accepting their error and moving on from it was easier if they could laugh it off. Laughter is important for resilience.
And at Christmas it’s important to have a sense of humour simply because we often put ourselves under pressure and expect so much of ourselves. We dream of perfect: the perfect house, the perfect tree, the perfect present, meal, outing, party… perfect, perfect, perfect…. Sometimes the pressure comes from within us,and our internalised Perfect Noel, often the pressure is external from magazines, TV adverts and the eternal, inevitable #NoFilterButItTookUsTenHoursToSetUp photos on social media. Honestly? Who has the time or the inclination?
Christmas is far more likely to go wrong, and far more memorable when it does. The Christmas when my Dad bought Mum a deep fat fryer… and nothing else. The Christmas when the meal was ready, out on the table… and someone was sick in the middle of the dining room carpet. When the baby pulled the tree over, when the cat pulled the tree over, when the drunken teenager pulled the tree over… Christmas is like the whole of life put into a snowglobe and heated up to boiling point with family commitments, time commitments and money commitments all fighting to get your attention and use up your energy. That’s very draining, or can be, and we need to guard against that.
The secret weapon in the war to stop us screaming at the wall is laughter. Being able to stop before losing your temper, taking a step back and seeing the ridiculousness of the situation changes your chemical make up. Laughter really is the best medicine: releasing endorphins, boosting the happy hormone of serotonin and building brain connections. It takes a willingness to see the funny side, though… which means being able to laugh at oneself and risk losing decorum or status. Laughter means placing oneself at the mercy of others, it’s a disabling moment.
It also defuses most situations, as long as all the participants are ready to laugh. That might not happen in the heat of a discussion, but often comes afterwards. Using laughter to cement a memory as a good one helps to build an album of positive, not negative memories. The deep fat fryer, for example, is now a memory to laugh at, but so was not at the time. It also meant my Mother never got a household appliance as a surprise present ever again. Lesson learned.
So go on…. find your funny. Do you like stand up comedy, slapstick movies or rib tickling jokes? Does a rerun of Morecambe and Wise work best, or are you best with Mock The Week and satirical comedy? If you know a never-fail laughter raiser, keep it close. It is a true friend on the darkest day.
And if you’re too low to laugh, and can see no way out? Laugh anyway. Fake it til you make it, laugh with your whole body, face and mind, laugh loud and long and helplessly even when you feel sad or lonely or lost. The body at first does not recognise the differences and will reward you with the feel good hormones you’re probably lacking. There are laughter Yoga classes online that encourage you to laugh just for the sake of it. Try it: if it’s a natural way to boost a mood, it’s worth a go, and if it doesn’t work for you, and you’re still unnaturally low, please see a friend, a doctor or get help.
Daily Read: How to Harness the Power of Laughter for a Happier Life from Happier Human.
The Best Medicine: The Power of Laughter. An extra one today, because I couldn’t resist this article. Laughter really is the best medicine.
Daily Book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. One of my perennial laughter making texts.
Self Care Act for the Day: Find your funny. What really makes you laugh? Put it on and take a minimum of 30 minutes having a good laugh, from the belly, a whole body laugh. Laughing is contagious, so if your family are feeling low then start a laughter train off. Tell a stupid joke, do a funny walk, start one of them laughing and get everyone laughing. Repeat daily, for as long as you can.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted or bought by me with my everyday wages.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
A Self Care Christmas: A short ebook on keeping Christmas simple and making sure it doesn’t overwhelm.
Celebrating a Contagious Christmas: Available in ebook and paperback, it’s about making this year a festival of Hope.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little rhings in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, however we get to celebrate it this year, and a Happy, Healthy and Simple New Year.