Response: Building Resilience Through Humor - Positive Impact on Stress Coping and Health: "Party in the Front"

Response: Building Resilience Through Humor - Positive Impact on Stress Coping and Health: "Party in the Front"

Florian Fischer (Institute of Public Health, Charité - Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany & Institute of Gerontological Health Services and Nursing Research, Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences, Germany)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4528-7.ch014
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Humor In The Context Of Salutogenesis, Coping, And Resilience

Humor can be used when individuals are under stress or perceive discomfort in others. In the midst of these moments, people rely on laughter and humor when attempting to remedy, cope with and buffer a wide range of awkward, sensitive, embarrassing, fearful, anxious, atypical, strange or abnormal situations (Beach et al., 2005; Beach & Dixson, 2001; Beach & Prickett, 2017). Therefore, humor may act as a powerful adaptive coping mechanism when confronted with adversity and is found to be positively correlated with resilience (Abel, 2002; Abrams et al., 2016; Fine, 1991; Romundstad et al., 2016).

The way one deals with stressful situations is highly important for well-being. The concept of salutogenesis, first introduced by Antonovsky (1979; 1987), contains a theoretical foundation for factors promoting health and well-being. This is in contrast to the perspective of pathogenesis, which emphasizes those factors causing a disease. Furthermore, it abandons the dichotomous view on health vs. illness by describing and explaining the relationship between health and illness as continuous – indicating that health is not a fixed state but a process. The salutogenic model is concerned with the relationship between health, stress and coping (Antonovsky, 1979).

According to this model, the appraisal of individual life situations plays a major role in the subjective feeling of health. Antonovsky (1996) used a river as a metaphor of life and called it the “River of Health” (p. 14). Rather than preventing us from swimming or rescuing from a dangerous river, the salutogenic intention is to improve our individual skills to make swimming safer. From this perspective, health is a dynamic, ever-present relation between the swimmer and the river (Eriksson & Lindström, 2011). The river metaphor includes the following stages moving up the river: (1) cure or treatment of diseases, (2) health protection/disease prevention, (3) and finally health promotion. All of these three stages – which are kinds of approaches in public health – ultimately strive to improve health, but out of different perspectives. This is the classic image of the River of Health, where the downriver bias is focusing on processes where the risk exposure already may have caused a damage (Eriksson & Lindström, 2008).

However, the River of Health has been developed further to a “Health in the River of Life” by Eriksson and Lindström (2008, p. 194): At birth, we drop into the river and float with the stream and over life learn how to swim. Some are born at ease where the river flows gently and where they have time to learn how to swim. Other children are born close to the waterfall, at dis-ease, where they have to struggle to survive. Where we end up in the river is based on the orientation and learning through life experiences. This, in turn, is closely related to the concept of resilience, which is the ability to exercise constructive life skills to meet the challenges of life (Zautra et al., 2010). Resilience might be seen as a personality characteristic, as a positive, distinct feature of an individual that prevents negative effects of stress (Konaszewski et al., 2019). An additional theoretical foundation is the sense of coherence, which is defined as the capability to perceive that one can manage in any situation independent of whatever is happening in life. Sense of coherence is not constructed around a fixed set of coping strategies, but is flexible (Antonovsky, 1993). The understanding of a problem, a way out and the answer to the question whether life makes sense to an individual define how he or she can handle a situation and how ill he or she feels (Antonovsky 1979). The key components for the sense of coherence are comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness: People have to understand their lives and they have to be understood by others, perceive that they are able to manage the situation and perceive it is meaningful enough to find motivation to continue (Antonovsky, 1979; 1987).

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