Laughter: A Dog’s Best Friend for Easing Stress

Start your new year by laughing more. Sure, life poses many serious challenges, but these tough times during a pandemic require a sense of humor. Take it from me, Ron Tickles, there is no better comedy than watching humans and their pets right at home.

Each day presents new occasions for giggles, snorts, and snickers. Like many dogs, I live with a family – Mom, Dad, Junior, two cats, and a hamster. Here are a few of their amusing antics.

Dinner Time

Every evening, Junior sneaks his serving of kale (or broccoli or green beans) under the dinner table for me to eat. I don’t mind; I eat just about anything. However, I chuckle when Dad also slips his serving of kale under the table — to avoid an argument with Mom. Even funnier is when Mom secretly scrapes the remaining kale on her plate into the garbage disposal before she retreats into the pantry for a bite of dark chocolate.

Exercise

New Year’s always rings in a new exercise machine. Mom, Dad, and Junior all huff and puff on the latest version of their pet hamster’s wheel. Although it’s a hoot to watch the hamster exert so much effort to go nowhere, it’s hysterical to watch the humans go nowhere even faster. Predictably, after a few months, the new exercise machine joins the retired treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bicycles lined up in the basement corner near the washer and dryer. At least those exercise machines make great clothes hangers.

Cat Race

Never willing to let sleeping cats lie, I tickle the younger male kitten on his tummy, which triggers a chain of reactions like the old game of Mouse Trap™. First, the kitten arches his back after awakening. Then he paws the older female cat, who hisses in return. Soon they chase around the house in a fury. During their hot pursuit, they knock down the hamster cage, unlatching its door. 

Seeing his chance to get off that silly wheel, the hamster scurries out to roam the house. When Mom arrives home, she screams because she thinks the hamster is a mouse. Dad looks for a mousetrap until Junior notices the hamster cage door is ajar. Then the whole family chases through the house to capture the hamster, who wants nothing to do with that ridiculous hamster wheel. Not even a stand-up comedian could write better material. LOL!

Freesounds.org 494838 nyxluvig witch laughter

How You View it

You can look at most life situations as the dog dish half empty or half amusing. Mental-health professionals love to complicate this basic fact with treatments like CBT or ACT when all you might need is a little FUN. Next time you feel stressed, depressed, or crossed, try to glean some humor in the situation. If you find this difficult, watch a funny YouTube video. Then study the scenario again. You may often find that the problem isn’t so bad, and you might even figure out a few solutions, which will help ease stress. 

Psychologist and “Cheerman of the Bored,” Steve Wilson, founded the World Laughter Tour, an organization devoted to promoting physical and mental health by living more positively. On its website, you can search for local Certified Laughter Leaders who lead individual or group laughter sessions, a great complement to traditional psychotherapy. If you want to humor others, you can seek training to become a Certified Laughter Leader yourself.

So here are my tips for easing stress. 

  1. Lighten up. Find humor in everyday life. 
  2. Unless you truly like vegetables (come on, be honest), ditch the kale and opt for other nutritious foods like dark chocolate. 
  3. Get off those silly hamster-wheel exercise machines and visit a dog park. Not only will you get a good workout and fresh air, but you will also have great fun watching the dogs in those ridiculous collars that their owners make them wear. 
  4. Of course, there are times when mental-health treatments like CBT and ACT may be necessary to ease anxiety and boost mood. See Psychology Today for a directory of therapists near you.
  5. Read this poem about things to do at home during winter months.
  6. Check out this blog post on activities to promote well being.
  7. Most importantly, stir up a little trouble now and then. 

Ruff . . . there scampers a real mouse. Time to rouse the cats. Speaking of cats, check out this cat’s blog post about easing stress.

Blog images are under license with Shutterstock.com.

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