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Does laughter and humour benefit wellbeing?

2 MIN READ • 27th June 2023

Seeing the funny side can alleviate worry, reduce feelings of isolation and act as a natural pressure value, say the experts

Laughter really is the best medicine, according to research from the University of Warwick. Professor Dr Stephanie Schnurr and Yanyan Li, at the University of Warwick’s Department for Applied Linguistics, have studied how humour can be incorporated into our lives to boost wellbeing. So, does laughter and humour benefit wellbeing?

The researchers’ studies on laughter and humour shows that both possess remarkable properties that can alleviate worry. They can also reduce feelings of isolation and help foster a sense of control over your mental and emotional state. In short, laughing can act as a natural pressure value. 

“Laughter is an important channel to express feelings, show appreciation and create a positive atmosphere,” says Professor Dr Stephanie Schnurr. “Similarly, by embracing humour, individuals can find solace and resilience in the face of adversity.” 

According to the experts, laughter plays a key role in enabling us to cope with potentially overwhelming situations. It can also help us to create and maintain healthy, happy relationships. Humour provides an avenue to express the unsayable, allowing us to discuss topics around social, economic and environmental issues that are typically considered taboo. Examples included financial issues, mental wellbeing and even death. 

Here are five ways the experts suggest that laughter and humour can benefit wellbeing: 

1.      Look on the bright side 

Laughter and humour can be incredibly effective tools for providing a mental break from life’s challenges. They allow us to adopt a more light-hearted viewpoint towards our circumstances. By finding humour in difficult situations, we can remind ourselves and those around us that the situation may not be as bad as we think. Laughing at disagreements and troubles among colleagues at work. For example, helps them to overcome these issues and lays the foundation for more productive and collaborative working together. 

2.        Take back control

Laughter has the remarkable ability to empower us and give us a sense of control. It can transform us from feeling like helpless victims to individuals in charge of our situations. By embracing the power of humour and laughter, we’re able to navigate challenges with confidence. What’s more, laughter serves as a valuable outlet for emotional expression, promoting overall mental and emotional wellbeing. 

3.        Act as a stress release valve

Humour, especially when used with irony and sarcasm, plays a crucial role as a release valve. It enables us to effectively relieve stress and tension. By embracing the power of laughter, we find a much-needed outlet to lighten the weight of everyday challenges. Engaging in humorous exchanges allows us to temporarily detach from the seriousness of life and work. This offers a momentary respite and a fresh perspective. 

4.        Change our perspective

Humour is a powerful tool that can challenge and change the way we think about issues that impact our well-being. It can change the way we see things and offer new ideas.

5.        Bring people together

Laughing and having a sense of humour can help bring people together and build positive relationships. At work, this can be useful in job interviews where creating a good relationship with the interviewers and signalling belonging are important for success.

Meet the writer
Laura Coppock
Senior content editor

Laura has more than a decade of experience in journalism, having started working as a health writer in 2008. Since then, she’s written about wellbeing, food, fitness, crafts and interiors for a variety of brands and publications. In... Discover more

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