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Using humor (and exercise) to get through tough times

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Dealing with the seriousness of the COVID-19 epidemic is no laughing matter.

But we all need to find ways to cope with the limitations that COVID-19 has imposed on our personal lives.

Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Scott Bea said during difficult times, it helps to laugh and share humor with the people we care about.

“Humor is considered to be a very sophisticated psychological defense against tension and threat, and so, I think doses of humor are good for us,” he said. “Humor is a way to activate good brain chemistry, and actually protect ourselves with better immune function – it is really good medicine.”

Bea recommends watching movies or shows with family and friends – even if we have to do it virtually.

Tuning in to late-night comedy programs can help ease tension, and strengthen bonds – especially when we’re being asked to spend time apart from those we love.

“Humor is kind of a bonding activity, so it’s shared experience – rarely do we experience it in isolation,” said Bea. “It’s one of those things that can be shared.”

Likewise, Dr. Bea believes finding a way to exercise can be especially helpful to boost your mood.

He said getting out into the fresh air, walking the dog, engaging in outdoor activities – at some distance, of course, is a good idea.

“Find a way to exercise. We know exercise is useful for our physical well-being and our emotional well-being,” said Bea. “There’s great research on physical exertion being a good treatment for depression, and for anxiety as well.”

Bea reminds us that everyone is experiencing something disappointing right now, so now is the best time to keep caring about each other as deeply as we can.