Marlowe Evans
Marlowe Evans
Originally from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Marlowe came to the University of New Brunswick to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science.
September 18, 2019

Opinion: Is Laughter Truly the Best Medicine?

Photo by Lesly Juarez / Unsplash

While it’s not actually impossible to laugh and cry at the same time (that’s definitely not being said from personal experience), it’s not easy to do. With school really starting to kick into high gear and midterms only weeks away, the statistical probability of university students laughing and crying at the same time is slowly going up. However, this might not be entirely a bad thing.

University can be stressful. Not only is there the issue of assignments, lectures and classes, but there’s also the ensuing issue of trying to balance personal relationships on top of a heavy workload. Some people even work while they study. So the stress levels are pretty high for most university students. In a slightly twisted way, stress is almost a bonding experience: 

“You didn’t do the chem notes? Good, I didn’t either”.

“Oh it’s Ladies’ Night and you have an 8:30 tomorrow? Me too, it’s okay”.

“You have a lab paper this week? I have three, join the club”.

These kinds of interactions bond students to one another. Stress and stress avoidance are a group activity. What happens in situations like those? What words are spoken next? None. The stress is laughed off. Students are so engrossed in the stress culture of school that it has literally become a running joke. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

Now at first glance it might not seem like self care could be blowing off an 8:30 class—or showing up in... less than great shape—and that’s probably true, but laughing about how you know it’s going to happen anyway? That’s self care.

In a 2017 article for Forbes, David DiSalvo, author of What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite, points out six scientific reasons that laughter has actual health benefits. 

“Laughing activates the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, the same brain chemical affected by the most common types of antidepressants, SSRIs,” he writes. 

Extra serotonin during exam season? Yes please!

Yet perhaps laughing with friends about school isn’t enough comedy to really get the full benefit. Luckily, Fredericton has a pretty sick comedy scene. Just google “comedy events Fredericton” and there are dozens of comedians performing, not only at venues like The Playhouse, but also in local pubs, bars and clubs. 

Last year UNB ran a program open to both UNB and STU students called Improv for Confidence, where students could learn to create their own comedy in a low-risk, friendly environment. 

Anything can be comedy. Crazy workload? Laugh. Bad decisions? Laugh. Jokes? Laugh. If you’re laughing it’s funny enough to make a difference. Yes, the beginning of the year is hard. It’s a time of flux, and it asks too many unanswerable, difficult questions, but if you can still laugh at it, everything will work out. Comedy is a good coping mechanism. 


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