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The benefits of laughing while in law school

Wren Browne, 1L

There are a lot of jokes and stereotypes that revolve around exhausted, neurotic grad students. Law students fall into this trope very nicely, what with all the reading, writing, interviewing, cold calling, working and once in a while sleeping necessary to staying afloat. It’s a stressful three years – but there is a Superman-themed BandAid. Laughter is the best medicine.

No, seriously. There are studies on studies on studies that show the benefits of laughing in both the long and short term. Laughter can make you feel better both physically and mentally.

The stress relief from a good laugh is quick, it’s easy, and best of all: it’s free. Laughing relieves stress by activating and releasing your stress response. What that means on a very basic level is that your heart rate and blood pressure both rise and then fall, allowing you to feel relaxed. This is especially noticeable if you’re already pretty stressed, and maybe haven’t allowed yourself a study break in a few hours or have consumed more Red Bull than water in the last week, when the rise and fall might be a little more dramatic. Laughter forces you to take deeper breaths and your muscles to relax. Also, laughter gives your pain tolerance a boost – very useful for those Con Law readings.

Laughter has also been shown to be a mood booster. Even fake laughter can leave a person feeling not just relieved, but happy. Long term, this can mean combating extreme bouts of depression. Also, many – if not the majority of – law students start their first semester not knowing a single person. Good news: laughter can help with that, too! Laughter helps build bonds between people. You find the same things funny, which is a simple but effective way to link and even create a friendship. Laughter indicates to others that you aren’t stressed, which can signal that you aren’t a threat or that your environment lacks threats. This not only gives you the joy of connection, but also creates long-term bonds that have long-lasting stress relieving effects.

There’s a lot to be stressed about, sure. Midterms, finals, assignments, the construction this summer (as long as they don’t touch those third-floor ceilings; Green doesn’t have the best ceilings I’ve ever seen, but they’re up there). But there’s also the 1L Pub Night skit, being silly with your friends, and this picture of my friend’s dog.  No one said law school would be easy, but it doesn’t have to be miserable either.

– Wren Browne is a 1L KU Law Student Ambassador from Midland, Michigan