Laughter is good medicine. This belief is thousands of years old. And even more impressive is that evidenced-based research says so too.
Humor is an important, but often under-used tool for dealing with mental illness. In this context, humor can be a means of empowerment, a source of comfort, and a bridge toward problem-solving. Physiologically, laughter strengthens our immune system, improves heart rate, decreases blood pressure and surges feel-good hormones like dopamine. The important thing, though, is that the funny stuff mustn't be derogatory, stigmatizing, hurtful or humiliating. When humor is used in a clever and meaningful way, it can offer a healthy release for our stress and struggles.
I'm a big believer in Bibliotherapy and frequently recommend books to those I work with - and even friends and family. Here are 3 books (presented by publication date) that have healing humor. These thigh-smacking gems offer insight into life's challenges, the hilarity that can come from celebrating ridiculous nonsense, as well as how to move through the seriousness of mental illness.
Hyperbole and a Half" by Allie Brosh is new to the book industry, but longtime followers like myself know that Brosh has been blogging about her life since 2009. Her slant is filled with edgy humor and art, and a vulnerability that touches the heart.
Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson is a rip roaring set of short stories, in an autobiographical timeline, that take on trauma, depression and the chaos that life throws her way. Lawson, a blogger and writer, has a stream of consciousness style that winds, curves, leaps and falls. But she never loses her way. In fact, she leads the reader to a place that is funnily poignant.
How to Ruin Your Life" by Ben Stein is written in an opposite format, one that truly teaches the reader how to ruin one's life. Chapter titles like "Live Above Your Means" or "Convince Yourself You're The Center of The Universe" have a tongue-in-check message, and other topics that involve social, family, love, work illustrate how funny reverse psychology can be.
What all these books teach is resiliency. In the face of hardship, adversity or the simple act of being in the same room as a spider, humor is the ground that paves the way for coping.