Prescribing a Dose of Laughter for April Fools’ Day

April Fools Day, pranks, mental health

You’ve probably heard “laughter is the best medicine,” but could laughing at a funny April Fools’ prank really improve your health?

“Research has shown that laughter has benefits for mental and physical health,” said Kenny Dunn, MA, LCPC, and a manager with Memorial Behavioral Health. “A good laugh can improve your mood, relieve stress and change your outlook on the day.”

Laughter decreases levels of cortisol, the body’s “stress hormone,” and increases endorphins in the brain to create a positive mood. Over time, laughter and a positive outlook can even improve heart health by lowering blood pressure.

This April Fools’ Day, encourage better health through laughter by planning pranks that are funny – not stress-inducing.

“Funny, harmless pranks can relieve stress and even strengthen relationships through shared laughter,” Dunn said.

But jumping out at someone in a darkened room or hiding a fake spider in a desk drawer can have the opposite effect, sparking the “fight or flight” response and raising cortisol levels – not to mention increasing the risk that your target will find the prank mean-spirited, not funny.

“Some people enjoy being pranked,” Dunn said. “But for others, it can cause hurt feelings and embarrassment. Be sure you know how your intended target feels before pulling a prank.”

Here are some ideas for funny, lighthearted April Fools’ Day pranks to share with your family and friends:

  • Put googly eyes on unexpected objects to create silly faces – office supplies, houseplants, even the milk carton!
  • Unwrap candy and replace it with raw veggies of the same shape and size. Baby carrots make a good stand-in for Tootsie Rolls.
  • Fill a closet with inflated balloons, shut the door and wait for someone to open it.
  • Plant some plastic pink flamingos in a neighbor’s lawn overnight.
  • Swap the family photo on a coworker’s desk for a photo of a completely different family – and see how long it takes them to notice.

On a Serious Note

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, turn to Memorial Behavioral Health. Call 217-525-1064, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to be connected with services. Or the Memorial Emotional Support Line provides free and confidential support Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 217-588-5509. Dial 988 if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis for a connection to free, 24/7 confidential support.