The Science of Silliness: How Being Silly Helps Us Cope with Stress and Anxiety

The Science of Silliness: How Being Silly Helps Us Cope with Stress and Anxiety

Annie Shih

National Goof Off Day: Embracing Goofiness

What would a child do in an annoying situation? They’re likely to start acting out and being silly. Science suggests we stop considering being silly as ‘acting out’ and reframe it as ‘getting through it’.

March 22 is National Goof Off Day! It’s the day we find our groove and celebrate goofballs in all forms. Being silly can function as a coping mechanism, releasing stress and reducing anxiety. Get ready to goof around and maybe learn a lesson about the science of silliness!  

The Benefits of Humor and Laughter 

You may feel that cracking a joke or being silly may appear to be uncaring or just a little immature - we would argue that this is not the case. After all, our lives are complex, and so are our emotions. When times are hard, it is ok to experience a range of emotions, from sad to angry to confused to determined - why shouldn’t happy or silly be included in the mix, even when things are tough, especially if it helps you to cope with stress, adversity or depression? 

Dr. Nick Kuiper, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Western Ontario, has been researching humor for over 30 years. He believes that it can function as a reframing mechanism, allowing psychological distance from a negative event to be created. In turn, this enables the stressful event to be seen in a less threatening manner and more of a positive ‘challenge’. In other words, humor is a tool that can be leaned on to lessen the detrimental effects of dark days, whilst also:

• Boosting your immune system

•Lowering your blood pressure •Relieving pain from chronic illness or injury

Top Jokes for Kids

Finding Your Groove

During the stressful period of the pandemic, we have seen adults dancing along to their children’s TikTok videos, initiating chair races at home, or playing super fun family board game MEandMine Aha! Tantrums Board Game - something that surely brightened our moods when we realized we were on virtual meeting number 34 of the week! If you find yourself stuck for ideas, watch the kids in your life. They are sure to be coming up with playful and fun ideas every hour of the day. 

Parent's Tips for Embracing Silliness

1. It Gets Easier

Being silly gets easier with time! Don’t panic…You’ll soon work out what plasters a smile onto your face. 

2. Laugh it Off

When you feel stressed, embarrassed, or even make mistakes, make sure you laugh it off and deal with it when you are calm. Kids often learn many of their behaviors through modeling their parent’s behaviors. So next time, when you make a little mistake like being a bit clumsy and dropping something, try to laugh it off instead of getting frustrated. By doing so, you are teaching your kids that it’s okay to make mistakes, and mistakes are not the end of the world.

The Science Behind Being Funny

Many of us grow up thinking that being funny is part of someone’s personality trait. Someone who can make the entire room laugh uncontrollably was just born funny while others, unfortunately, we are not so lucky. I, for one, thought that being funny is fixed and whether or not we as individuals are funny or not depends on our own personality traits and whether or not we won the lottery of being born with the ability to be humorous. Think about it, is it possible for someone to learn how to be funny? It almost appears impossible to learn how to be funny, right? But what if I tell you that there is actually science behind being silly? And no, I am not joking when I say that many individuals have studied what makes things funny and developed multiple theories explaining the science of silliness

The Relief Theory 

stemmed from an Austrian neurologist's ideas, Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud saw laughter and humor as a way to release built-up tension.

The Incongruity Theory

 proposed by Immanuel Kant and Sǿren Kierkegaard follows the idea that humans find something to be funny when it does not align with what we expect to happen

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Laughter is the best medicine! When we think of medicine, we oftentimes think about the physical pills we take when we get sick or when we need to get better. You know. The ones that doctors prescribe and have a very bitter taste? Will you believe me if I tell you that some of the benefits you get from taking these prescribed medicines from doctors can also be achieved through a more simple and better-tasting medicine known as laughter? Just like how medicine helps you get better, laughter is actually capable of doing the same but in a slightly different way!

In the long run, laughter improves your immune system as having positive thoughts increases the release of neuropeptides, which assist with fighting anxiety, stress, and serious illnesses, boosting your immune system. Additionally, just like how medicine can relieve pain, a good laugh can also do the same! Laughter triggers your body to release natural painkillers relieving the physical pain you may be feeling

As for short-term benefits, laughter can provide organ stimulation, relief of stress, and relief of tension!

Organ Stimulation: When you laugh, your oxygen intake improves, stimulating your organs, specifically your heart, lungs, and muscles. Additionally, your brain would releases endorphins, hormones that elicit feelings of pleasure and promotes a relaxed mind.

Stress Relief: When you laugh, it activates your body's stress response mechanism, increasing your spirits by altering your heart rate.

Relieve you of tension:The act of laughing causes rapid blood circulation, allowing you to experience a feeling of calmness as the tension and stress you feel go away. 

Help Reduce Kid’s Anxiety with Fun and Humorous Activities

MEandMine’s iCalm Galaxy Emotions Board Game Learn about all the crazy emotions we experience and master nine different calming skills!

Join the MEandMine rescue squad and the iCalm guardians on a mind-blowing space rescue to save our galaxy from emotional chaos! Learn all sorts of fun ways to regulate our emotions through building and playing your own board game!

Learn more about the research:

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, July 29). Stress relief from laughter? it's no joke. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from 

W. M. D. E. (n.d.). Humor: How it affects your mental health and what you can do to develop a good sense of humor. WebMD. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from  

Menéndez-Aller, Á., Postigo, Á., Montes-Álvarez, P., González-Primo, F. J., & García-Cueto, E. (2020). Humor as a protective factor against anxiety and depression. International journal of clinical and health psychology : IJCHP. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from 

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