You’ve probably heard, “Laughter is the best medicine.” It’s true.
In a Mayo Clinic online article, the Mayo Clinic staff list a few benefits of laughter, both short term and long term.
Short term benefits:
- Stimulates your organs. Deeper breathing, increased blood flow to your heart and lungs, and releases endorphins from the brain. All good stuff.
- Lowers your stress levels. The article says that laughter lights up and then cools down your stress response resulting in a relaxed feeling.
- Soothes tension. Yes, please. When you laugh, you increase your circulation and help your muscles relax.
Long term benefits:
- Up your immune system. Laughter and positive thoughts release neuropeptides, which fight stress and potentially serious illnesses.
- Natural painkiller. A good laugh can release your body’s own natural painkillers. There’s a bonus.
- Mood lifter. Laughing helps alleviate your stress, fights back depressive or anxious thoughts, and ignites a more positive outlook.
The Bible talks about the benefits of laughter as well.
Proverbs 17:22 in The MESSAGE version says, “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” Notice laughter’s (a cheerful disposition) physical benefits.
When your life is a mess, is it wrong to laugh?
At times, no. Laughter could be the stress reliever you need in that moment. As long as you don’t laugh AT the other person, a good belly laugh might be just the thing.
When Dave and I were first walking the recovery process, I remember feeling like I had to be serious. What we were going through was tough. I couldn’t find much to smirk at, let alone laugh out loud about. Every aspect of life felt hard, confusing, and disappointing. Wouldn’t laughing come across as minimizing our crisis?
But then my dog would do something crazy, like jumping onto the trampoline, tossing a ball around, and bouncing all over the place. I wish I’d gotten a video of that. 😄
And I couldn’t help it. I laughed out loud.
And then I felt shame.
How could I find something funny when our life was such a mess?
Remember Proverbs 17:22—Laughter is good medicine.
Eventually, Dave and I learned to laugh together again. That mutual laughter reached toward the other with hope and friendship.
How can laughter decrease the stress in betrayal recovery?
1. Shift the gloominess.
When you get stuck seeing the worst that’s happened, life feels dark and depressing. It did for me. Learn to look for the small positives in your day. Things like a sunny day after several days of rain, you slept through the night for the first time since you discovered his porn use, your toddler got more food in his mouth than on the floor today. Each positive experience triggers those endorphins in your brain. You might find yourself cracking a smile.
2. Realize laughter helps you.
When you and your husband share a laugh, you build a new connection. No one else might find that situation funny, but you two did. Recovery needs these new connections. And a healthy way to build them is through laughing together. Had a tense day? Pick out a favorite or new comedy and watch it together. For a few minutes, you might forget the depth of the struggle, release some stress, and remember what it’s like to enjoy time together.
3. Provide hope for something more.
One of the hardest things about recovery is maintaining your hope for a brighter future. You slog through so much hard stuff that you can lose hope. You might feel that this is the way it’s always going to be. When you can laugh at something silly or even at your mistakes during the day, you notice the lightness you feel. Sure, it may not last very long, but for that moment you feel lighter and brighter, maybe hopeful again. And you need that.
Betrayal recovery isn’t a joke. It takes hard work, patience, perseverance, and a commitment to see lasting change. There may be times when you laugh until you cry. When that happens, celebrate the laughter and deal with the tears. You allowed your body to release stress in a healthy way. Check out this post about 4 Ways Laughter Helps Your Wounded Marriage. Use healthy laughter—with each other, not at each other—to rebuild your friendship with your husband.
When was the last time you burst out laughing?
Yes, life is gritty, messy, and sometimes yucky. But you don’t have to dwell there. Find something to bring a smile as often as possible. Your body, mind, and spirit will grow and look for new possibilities. If you need some help gaining perspective, please reach out. You can laugh again.