When you are feeling stressed, under the pump and overwhelmed the world can feel like it’s closing in around you. It can become difficult to think clearly and concisely. You feel tense and on edge and can feel in less control of your emotions. If your stress is common across your workplace then it becomes a significant organisational problem.
Introducing more humour in the workplace may be an answer. Whilst quotes from history suggest it’s not a new antidote – Plato famously suggested that “even the Gods love jokes”, new research from the Australian National University has found that humour in the workplace can help employees deal with stressful situations and workplace aggression.
Jerome Doraisamy from Wellness Daily reports that Dr David Cheng, ANU College of Business and Economics lead researcher said that “humour can be used to reduce the negative impact of workplace aggression and bullying at work.”
“While obviously the best solution to workplace aggression is to stamp out the poor behaviour, our research shows if something stressful does happen to you at work, a bit of laughter can help,” Dr Cheng said.
“The experiments consistently showed exposure to humorous stimuli is useful for victims of aggression. Humour helps reduce some of the damage caused to a victim’s psychological well-being by bolstering their sense of power. They felt more powerful and that people would be more likely to listen to them.”
“That’s important because with workplace aggression, when you get yelled at you feel belittled, you feel weaker. So humour can help counter that by making you feel more empowered,” he argued.
The study is part of a larger research project into the impact of laughter in the workplace, following a 2015 study that saw participants engaging in boring repetitive work (answering basic maths questions). After a period, people were given a 10-minute break, with one group again exposed to humourous videos.
“After the break, we told people they could stop work at any point in time. Then we measured how long they went for and how they performed,” he said.
“The people in the humour group continued to work for double the length of time with the same level of performance in terms of the accuracy of their answers.”
Back to my personal individual experiences and whilst exercise including a short walk , or music can also help ease your stress there’s no doubt that watching a few minutes from your favourite stand up comedy or sitcom on You Tube can help raise your spirits and create some positive mental headspace.