Sometimes, you just can't help feeling the urge to laugh. If you allow yourself to laugh during serious moments, you may end up accidentally offending someone. While it might not be that easy to stifle a laugh, for most people it can be done.
If you feel the urge to laugh or say something completely irrelevant, excuse yourself immediately, if possible
Think before you laugh. If someone says "My mother just died, your reaction may be to laugh. Not to make fun of the person or act like you do not care about their loss, but the sudden change of subject to something sad is awkward for you, so you feel like laughing or getting out of the conversation. Although you may not notice it, something triggers you to do so. Think first, then react. Listen closely to what the person says. Imagine immediately if you were in their situation. What would you do? Would you want someone laughing at you if your mother died? Listening to the person, then putting yourself in their place will help you realize that it's not something unimportant and funny.
Think of something sad and depressing. If you need inspiration, the daily news is usually full of unfortunate events that will suffice to calm you down. Think about something that makes you want to cry. Although this can be unpleasant, it usually takes care of the uncontrollable urge to laugh. If sadness doesn't work, fear is also extremely effective. Think of a scene from a horror movie you just saw or a car accident. This is physically proven to work because the adrenaline (the fear hormone) released from your brain when you have these thoughts will block out the endorphins (the happiness or laughing hormone). It may take some practice to convince yourself enough of the fear, but once you have mastered it, it's very effective.
Try pinching yourself or causing some other strong physical sensation, such as biting your inner cheek or your tongue (don't bite too hard!). Bite each side of your mouth together, so that the edge of your lips aren't rising up to make you smile or laugh. Hold your breath when you are about to laugh. This can act as a distraction, helping you beat the urge to laugh out loud. If you still squeeze out a smile which other people tend to notice, press your lips together so it doesn't look like you're smiling. Sometimes when you hold your breath though, it just squeezes the laugh out even louder or you laugh at yourself, so be cautious.
Also, Use your breathing to control the laughter. Try exhaling as much of the air as possible from your lungs. This removal of the air will not allow the laugh to continue and make it stop. This usually works best when combined with the coughing technique mentioned above. A combination of techniques is often the best!
Close your mouth and breathe heavily through your nose, as if you are laughing, just without opening your mouth. It can be covered up as a cold or something of that nature.
Lastly, Distract yourself. Try a method for thinking about something else, or self calming. Some approaches that may help include:
Count backwards from 10 to 1. If this doesn't work, try again. Even forward counting can help.
Consult with me for counseling and therapy to figure out if it actually warrants more attention.
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