Humour is a powerful coping mechanism in a crisis

Humour is a powerful coping mechanism in a crisis
Humour is a powerful coping mechanism in a crisis is Dr Vanessa Marcié latest article for Harvard Business Review France.
Copyright @ Harvard Business Review France.

Humour is a powerful coping mechanism in a crisis

Pain tolerance, strengthening of the immune system, resistance to stress… Humour has so many benefits that it makes an interesting remedy in times of uncertainty. Dr Vanessa Marcié, our CEO has published a new article for Harvard Business Review France.


Many psychologists and humorists agree that laughter is the best medicine. In a time of crisis, it can be a powerful tool for dealing with stressful experiences and fear. This is confirmed when you think about the way people communicate, face uncertainty, tragedy and isolation right now: with “memes”, funny videos and jokes. The Coronavirus has affected our lives on an unprecedented global scale, but if you have a funny story, don’t hesitate to share it with your team. Why? Because a little humour is great for everyone’s mental and physical health.

Pain therapy

A team of Swiss researchers has shown that laughter and humour can increase our tolerance for pain and improve our quality of life. How? Humour would activate the release of endorphins and so relieve muscle tension. According to Thomas Benz, one of the researchers, targeted use of humour should even be an integral part of pain therapy. As part of its work, the Swiss team observed that participants who laughed while watching comedies had an increased tolerance for pain (they were able to keep their hands in ice water longer than those who did not laugh). Additional measures have even shown that this tolerance could last up to 20 minutes after laughing.

Strengthening the immune system

Humour also has the ability to strengthen our immune function. Indeed, other research has shown the positive effect of humour and laughter on various components of our immune system. Laughter can apparently reduce stress and improve the activity of NK cells (so-called killer cells), at least temporarily. The low activity of NK cells is linked to reduced disease resistance and increased morbidity, especially in people with cancer and HIV. The authors of this study conclude that laughter can be a useful cognitive-behavioural intervention with patients and that both smile and laughter significantly improve mood.

Leading With Humour is an innovative consultancy and learning & development company. We are dedicated to developing leadership and emotional intelligence through humour. We offer a variety of training and coaching programmes and business services dedicated to leading and living with humour and laughter.  To discover YOUR sense of humour and how to laugh your way to success, take our FREE Humour & Leadership Quiz