By Amy Dee
Do You Feeling Stressed and Overwhelmed?
Emails pour in, a co-worker goes home sick, increasing your work load, the phone won’t stop ringing, and your elderly mom just called with her grocery list. Everyone wants a piece of you at the same time. You feel like growing out your mustache, slapping on some sunglasses, and going missing…just get away from it all.
When stressed like this, your life feels off balance. Thoughts pour into your head so fast you can’t sort them out. You begin imaging worst-case scenarios: your co-worker will hate you, you’ll be fired, and your mom with starve to death. Most likely, none of this is true, but your head keeps spinning.
Not only that, your breathing gets shallow, causing your heart to start banging. Your muscles tighten. You can’t think straight or stop thinking, so you start beating yourself up with ‘shoulda, coulda, woulda.’ It’s all too much, so you either dig in, to work harder or dig into a pile of nachos with rocky road ice cream to numb out. AARGH!
Workplace Humor: Your Built In Stress Buster!
Now, here’s the good news! Tucked inside your body is a powerful stress buster. Best of all, you can quickly and easily detonate this weapon by laughing at a funny cat video or chuckling with a co-worker.
Laughter shifts your perspective, lowers the heat in stressful moments, and calms your nervous system. It has tons of other benefits, including strengthening your resilience.
Humor doesn’t only reduce stress. Laughing with co-workers enhances creativity, improves productivity, boosts morale, and makes you more approachable. As a psychiatric RN in an acute care hospital, I know how much laughter helped me emotionally survive the demands of my very stressful work.
There is no doubt that humor helped me cope with the demands of single parenting. Laughing helps me now, sandwiched between the layers of running a business, helping adult kids, and being the sole caretaker of my elderly mother.
If Workplace Humor is SO Great, Why Don’t We Laugh More?
Unfortunately, despite office humor being an incredible coping tool, too often, our sense of humor flies out the window when we most need it. Today we need it more than ever with the fear of Covid19 and the economy. Adding to the stress are school closings and working from home. Let’s top it all off with the cost of health care and concerns about our jobs. Right now, we are all under more stress than ever.
Studies show that those of us still working are putting in longer hours. What’s more, due to Covid19, healthcare, and tech workers have been incredibly stressed during this pandemic. Now, without question, we need to concentrate on what we can control and better handle what we cannot control.
Here are a few ways to bring more levity to your work-life. Most important, remember that this is about having fun, not about always being funny. There is no need for a comedy workshop; just decide to bring more playfulness to work.
4 Tips to add Workplace Humor
1. Start a Workplace Humor board
As a hospital RN, we had a bulletin board in the break room where co-workers could share funny cartoons or sayings. Laughing together brought us closer as a team. PS The internet has lots of funny things to share, like memes!
2. Poke fun at yourself
Don’t beat yourself up, but talk about your little quirks or embarrassing moments.
For example, one day I got lots of stares and sniggers while leaving a roadside bathroom. Once back in my car, I realized my skirt was tucked up and inside my underwear,
Embarrassing? Yes! Funny? Absolutely!
We all have awkward moments. Sharing them with co-workers make you more human and relatable.
3. Find humor, even in serious moments.
I am not condoning offensive humor, but seeing the funny side of a situation can rebalance our thoughts and help us find more creative solutions.
I worked as a psych RN in an acute care hospital. One day, when an unhappy patient yelled, “You Fat-Old-B#*%H!” I whispered to my co-worker, “Pretty sure he’s talking to you.” Obviously, we didn’t laugh out loud, but it made for some levity at the moment.
4. Bring funny snacks to share
Due to Covid 19, I’ll recommend only individual pre-packed items but check with your hospital or company’s guidelines. Consider bringing candies with a double meaning, such as Laffy Taffy or Take 5 during a rough week, to remind your crew to laugh and take breaks when needed.
Make puns of candy names or prepackaged snacks like:
You’re a Whopper of a co-worker!
Snickers: You keep me laughing!
Nestle Crunch: You always help out in a crunch!
Chips: Thanks for chipping in!
Workplace Humor: Shift Your Perspective
Look for humor everywhere. Hone your ability to see funniness in everyday life. Share the funny things your kids do. As a toddler, one of my daughters loved the word ‘diarrhea,’ making for some comical moments. Share the goofy antics performed by your cat or dog. Or make fun of a particularly awful morning (overslept, spilled your coffee, stepped in dog doo on the way to your car). Do your parents mistakenly say funny stuff? One of my parents always mispronounced Volvo by changing the letter ‘O’ to the letter ‘U’. Finding humor requires you to actively look for things to laugh about in everyday situations.
Even if you don’t consider yourself ‘funny,’ you can still learn to find humor in the little things. Choose to lighten up and stop taking yourself so seriously. Seek out the funny wherever it happens.
Most importantly, look for humor no matter what happens. Shifting your perspective to find levity in even serious situations is one of the best ways to cope with difficulties.
So, if you are irritated with a co-worker, tired of all the meetings, or lose a sale, learn to poke fun at the situation and your tension will melt away. Once your mood is lightened, you will have more energy to find solutions. Shedding a little laughter on a dark subject can be the ticket to brightening things up.
In the end, once you understand how all-powerful laughter is, you’ll want to incorporate lots of workplace humor into every day.
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