What Role Does Humour Play in our Wellbeing?

Each term Berwick Grammar School has a wellbeing theme – an idea we explore as a community that assists us to understand and build our wellbeing.

Last term, when we spent much of our time working and learning remotely, that wellbeing theme was Humour.

This may seem like an odd choice, but was in fact carefully chosen as a crucial element that helps us deal with challenging times.

So how is humour – or laughter – a crucial wellbeing element?

Well, let’s start with our mental health.  It’s pretty hard to feel anxious, sad or angry when you are laughing.  In fact, it is pretty hard to feel anything at all except overcome with a sense of how funny something is.  It shifts our perspective – especially in the short term – away from difficult moments, which is why so many people often feel compelled to make a joke when they sense tension.  They know subconsciously, the power that humour has. Laughter takes away stress and worry, and helps us focus in on positive moments.

And these positive moments can readily be shared with others, making laughter a great way to connect.  Remember that connection is one of the key elements of the Wellbeing Hive – the need to feel connected to others.

Sharing a joke is a great way to foster positive connection.  It’s something you can keep coming back to with a person – a positive memory you can revisit any time you like.  It can be especially useful to subvert disagreements – an inevitable result of us having spent more time at home together.

The final way that humour helps us is actually physical.  Can you think of a time you had a really good hearty laugh?  And how did you feel after this?  There’s a deliciously warm and relaxed sensation that laughter brings.  And it lasts long afterwards – we just need to think of that funny moment again and we are returned to that general sense of relaxation and wellbeing.  That’s because laughter releases endorphins – those feel-good hormones you have probably heard so much about.

Laughter really is great for us.  It boosts our immune system, improves blood flow to the heart and even burns calories!  No wonder they say people who laugh often, live longer.

And it turns out it doesn’t even have to be real laughter.  The act of making yourself laugh actually gives you all of these physical and emotional benefits.  This is why Laughter Yoga is so popular – the exercise class whereby the exercise is… well, laughing.  Check it out here.

So last term, when we asked students to share jokes, talk about the TV shows that made them laugh and explore the most popular comedies of their parents’ and grandparents era, it wasn’t JUST about feeling good, although I think this was a wellbeing theme that helped everyone feel good.  It was about fostering connection and learning strategies to help us through this difficult time.  And this is crucial – learning how to protect our wellbeing and booster it is just as important as knowing where to go should you need help.



Photo by Rodolfo Quirós