Laughter is commonly known to reduce stress, ease anxiety and tension, and even help reduce pain by prompting the body to release endorphins which can relieve pain.
This is why people often open awkward speeches with a joke. It breaks the ice, the tension in the audience, and helps to reduce stress for the speaker.
A priest, a rabbi, and the Coronavirus walk into a bar…
In the last month the stress in our world, and in our own personal lives, has been amped up about 1000%. Everyone is either on edge about this pandemic or blowing it off as something minor or even made up.
Whichever way you look at it, the hype of coronavirus is huge and we can’t escape it.
I don’t know about you, but my heart and mind cannot take the constant media assault of information, both good and bad, being blasted at me 24/7 without feeling weary and beaten.
And I’m not even sick.
So I cope.
I write a joke and share it.
I call my parents, who are legitimately in a higher at risk demographic, ask them if they are still with us and make them promise not to lick doorknobs or go out in public ever again.
I’m sure my parents appreciate my concern, but they kindly informed me they are “grown ass adults,” who are just fine, thank you very much.
I send $50 four packs of toilet paper just in case.
My kids are grateful school is closed for six weeks.
Not just because they want to stay home, but because it means I have to stop yelling, “DON’T LET ANYONE SNEEZE IN YOUR EYEHOLES!” from the front porch as they get on the bus with all of their friends. Of course I’m joking, but I’m also really not.
Because I’m nervous.
Because I’m concerned.
Because I’m a little scared for all of us.
Because I cope with stressful events with humor, both awkward and otherwise.
I’m not normally jumpy about things like this.
I’m usually pretty pandemic/mass hysteria immune, but this time it’s a little more that the usual frenzy of talking heads with nothing else to report on. This is real and I’m worried about everyone’s grandparents.
(Well, not mine. They died a long time ago, from unrelated events, but I digress.)
This is a global pandemic and we cannot ignore the fact that people are dying.
Every day people are affected by something we aren’t even prepared to fully understand, yet.
So if I tell a joke or make a meme or in some way attempt to cut through the tension with a laugh, it isn’t because I don’t understand or want to acknowledge the fear we are all facing. It is because I cannot live with that fear in the front of my brain every moment and stay sane.
It is because I want you to have a moment without the fear in the front of your brain.
If I can offer a quick laugh in the middle of this chaos or bring a smile out long enough to ease someone’s heartbeat, even if it is just my own, please don’t be mad.
Please don’t judge me.
Our laughter does not diminish the seriousness of the situation and it does not mean we don’t care.
It just means we might need, and deserve, a smidge of a break. Take it because we are in this for the long haul.
Maybe laugh along for a minute.