How To Stop Laughing In Serious Situations: 14 Things That Actually Work

How To Stop Laughing In Serious Situations: 14 Things That Actually Work

1. Play the “serious face” game.

woman trying to make a serious face

Remember those times when you challenged your friends to keep a straight face while everyone else tried to make them laugh? It’s time to bring that game into real life! Practice in front of the mirror, make it a personal challenge — who knows, you might just become the reigning champion of the ‘Serious Face’ game.

2. Distract yourself with imaginary scenarios.

man woman sad argue fight disagreement

If you feel a laugh bubbling up, quickly distract yourself by creating an imaginary scenario in your head. Maybe you’re trying to solve a complex math problem or you’re in a high-stakes potato-peeling competition. The sillier, the better – as long as it keeps you from laughing!

3. Bite your tongue (gently!).

Two happy young people are laughing while sitting at a table in indoor café

This old trick is a classic for a reason — it works! If you can’t stop the giggles, gently biting your tongue can help suppress them. Just don’t bite down too hard or you’ll end up crying instead of laughing!

4. Take deep, slow breaths.

Think of yourself as a Zen master in training. When the giggles threaten to bubble up, take some slow, deep breaths. Imagine the laughter as a wild horse and your breath as the reins. Now, who’s in control? This one might take a bit longer to master, but it’s still worth trying!

5. Visualize a stop sign.

man laughing during awkward conversation

When you see a stop sign while driving, you instinctively know what to do. Apply the same principle here. Visualize a stop sign in your mind when you feel the laughter coming on. Sometimes, your brain just needs a clear, visual command. Of course, this might just make you laugh more because it’s so silly!

6. Repeat a mantra.

surprised woman looking at phone

Find a mantra that works for you. It could be something like, “I am calm and serious” or “I will not laugh.” Repeat this in your head until the urge to laugh subsides. You might feel silly doing it, but hey, whatever works, right? If nothing else, this should help ground you in the moment and may just cut the giggles off entirely.

7. Think of something less amusing.

man woman sad argue fight disagreement

If all else fails, think of something less amusing or slightly annoying. Maybe it’s that pile of dirty dishes waiting for you at home, or the annoying sound your neighbor’s dog makes at 3 a.m. Just enough to wipe that grin off your face, but not enough to ruin your day!

8. Picture yourself somewhere else.

Think of the most inappropriate place to laugh and mentally transport yourself there. A library? A meditation retreat? The more serious the location, the better. It’s a mind game to train your laughter response!

9. Practice your best poker face.

Difficult family conversation, crisis relations, distrust, establishment trusting relationships, after quarrel, tries understanding, offer go family psychologist. Husband and wife support each other

Ever watched a poker game? Those players could win Oscars for their non-expressive faces! Channel your inner poker player and practice your most neutral, unreadable expression. Neutralize your expression and pretend you’re trying to make your face entirely unreadable to anyone around you.

10. Try the “physical anchor” trick.

two friends walking outside in city

Find a subtle physical action, like pinching your wrist or tapping your foot, and train yourself to associate it with not laughing. After some practice, your sneaky brain will learn to associate that action with serious mode. It’s a bit weird, sure, but sometimes it actually works!

11. Perform some mental gymnastics.

Keep your mind busy with complex thoughts. Try to remember the lyrics of a song you haven’t heard in years or mentally calculate your grocery list. Your brain will be too busy to process laughter! Obviously, don’t get so lost in thought that you miss out on what’s actually being said in the conversation. You could end up in a more awkward situation when someone comes to you for feedback and you haven’t heard a word that’s been said!

12. Get up and excuse yourself until your laughter is under control.

If you can feel a wild bout of laughter coming on and all else fails, excuse yourself from the situation. A quick trip to the bathroom can give you a chance to regain your composure. This way, you can get all the giggles out of your system and go back when you feel a bit more chill.

13. Transport yourself to somewhere much calmer (and less hilarious).

Imagine a peaceful, calming scenario: a quiet beach, a snow-capped mountain, your comfy bed. This mental chill-out can help to ease the laughter urge and bring you back to a state of calm.

14. Set aside time for laughter later.

Promise yourself a good, hearty laugh later when the situation is more appropriate. Sometimes, just knowing that you can laugh about it later is enough to stave off the giggles for now.

Enjoy this piece? Give it a like and follow Bolde on MSN for more!

Harper Stanley graduated from Eugene Lang College at The New School in NYC in 2006 with a degree in Media Studies and Literature and Critical Analysis. After graduating, she worked as an editorial assistant at The Atlantic before moving to the UK to work for the London Review of Books.

When she's not waxing poetic about literature, she's writing articles about dating, relationships, and other women's lifestyle topics to help make their lives better. While shocking, she really has somehow managed to avoid joining any social media apps — a fact she's slightly smug about.