Why We Laugh During Serious Moments, and 6 Ways to Stop It Within Seconds

Nervous laughter isn’t actually laughter at all. But when it does happen and we laugh during a traumatic event or serious moment, we start to sink in confusion, embarrassment, and discomfort. Luckily, even if these giggles seem uncontrollable, there are a few ways to prevent or at least conceal them.

We at Bright Side have had a few unfortunate laughs during serious moments and it’s definitely not pretty, so we wanted to spare you from the weird experience by giving you a few tips.

It’s an emotional reaction.

If you laugh during an inappropriate situation, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. In fact, we can even go so far as to say that this isn’t real laughter because it’s just a result of the body’s defense mechanism in order to lower the anxiety, confusion, stress, and discomfort you’re experiencing in that moment.

In a way, laughing takes our attention away from the trauma and pain by releasing positive reactions. It also helps us battle all the emotions we’re experiencing that can make us vulnerable or weak.

1. Lick or bite your lips.

Try to think of a behavior that you can substitute for laughing. Some examples that you might find helpful are: licking your lips, nodding, inhaling deeply, and exhaling. You can also bite the inside of your cheek or lips, or pinch yourself on the arm.

2. Click on a pen.

Nervous laughter doesn’t only happen during situations when grief is involved, it can even occur during a serious moment at work. This can complicate things, and the best way you can try to block your laugh is to click a pen. Focus on the clicking so that your thoughts drift away from laughing.

3. Laugh it out while you leave.

Laughter can be good medicine, but doing it in front of people who are experiencing grief isn’t appropriate. Spare yourself from the awkwardness by turning around and laughing as you go away, trying to conceal it as much as possible. You can also excuse yourself and go to the restroom or act like you forgot something in your car and say you need to go grab it.

4. Focus on one color in the room.

One way to move your thoughts from laughing is by shifting your focus onto something totally different. For example, think of a color and start looking around the room to find it. Now, see how many times this color appears. Even though it’s a small goal, it will direct your emotions to something else and you might be able to swallow your laughter.

5. Sing a song to yourself.

It can be any song, even the “ABCs.” Reciting the lyrics of a song is a practical way to get your thoughts away from your emotions and actually lessen the urge to laugh.

Aside from singing, you can try doing multiplication tables in your head or even imagine making a pizza. Think of every step you’d take to make it (like kneading the dough or grating cheese). The goal is to draw your focus away from the nervous laughter.

6. Push out air with closed lips.

Breathing techniques can actually help to prevent a burst of laughter. Just close your lips tightly and shut your ears with your fingers. Now try to exhale from your mouth, and it’ll feel like the air is about to explode from your lips. The urge might go away as you feel the pressure on your mouth.

Have you ever laughed during a serious moment? What makes you start laughing in such situations? Do you have your own way to stop your laughter?

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