Health and Humor: Forum analyzes humor as life skill

Erica Terrini

News Editor

About 60 students attended a forum last week in the University Student Commons that encouraged the use of humor in daily practices to increase physical, mental health and social benefits. 

Linda Hancock, the director for The Wellness Resource Center, said the main objective of the forum was to inform students that humor is a skill people can learn.

“People think, you’re either born funny or not, and so they don’t invest any effort in learning the skill,” Hancock said.

According to Hancock, laughter could improve physical health by:

  • Relaxing the whole body.
  • Boosting the immune system.
  • Triggering the release of endorphins.
  • Protecting the heart.

Hancock said laughter could improve mental health by:

  • Dissolving distressing emotions.
  • Relaxing and recharging people.
  • Shifting perspectives.

Hancock also said humor can be an effective tool in the work place and other social settings. She said using humor to present serious health topics – like sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy or sexual and domestic abuse – often makes information more memorable for students.

“People are drawn to people who know how to use humor,” Hancock said. “It’s charismatic.”

However, Hancock said not everyone might appreciate the use of humor in a professional setting. She said she has received negative feedback from some attendants of her forums but the majority of her audiences appreciate her application of humor.

“Each year, I think I get funnier and enjoy life more and that doesn’t happen by accident–it happens on purpose,” Hancock said. “Over the years I’ve learned skills to add funnier things to my life and to give myself permission to be goofy more.”

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