Laughter is a physical reaction to various stimuli such as humor or tickling. It normally expresses happiness, joy, relief, and other positive feelings, although sometimes we laugh to conceal our discomfort or embarrassment (nervous laughter). There are situations when laughter is considered inappropriate. How to stop laughing in a serious situation?
Focus on your breath. Taking deep breaths is a common relaxation technique can help you cope with undesirable physical reactions, such as inappropriate laughter or tears. Breath in through your nose, hold your breath for a second, breath out through you mouth. Repeat as many times as you need to calm down. Counting your breaths will distract you from the cause of your laughter.
Use pain as a distraction. Sharp pain will act as a distraction. You can pinch yourself, bite your tongue, lip or inner cheek, or clench your fists so that your fingernails dig into your palms. Just don't hurt yourself in the process.
Think about sad things. Just like focusing on things that make you happy can help you stop yourself from crying, thinking about sad, depressing or scary things can help you refrain from inappropriate laughter. If you don't want to recollect your negative experiences, there are plenty of sad movies to think about. How do you feel about thinking of all the times Sean Bean died on screen?
Focus on mundane things. If thinking about sad things doesn't help, try to focus on things that make you want to yawn such as your to-do list, grocery list or spring-cleaning you've been intending to do for months. Trying to solve a math problem in your head might also help, if you're into math and have a problem to solve. If not, the multiplication table will do.
Put your hand over your mouth and cough. If you can't help laughing, try to disguise your inappropriate laugh with a coughing fit. Just don't cough too loud, especially if you are attending a funeral or some other solemn event. You can also cover your face with your hands and pretend you're crying. Sometimes laughing and crying sound alike.
Use reverse psychology. Reverse psychology is a technique that involves the advocacy of behavior that is the opposite to the one desired. Mentally encourage yourself to laugh some more. You may end up finding out that the situation is not so funny anymore and you have absolutely no desire to laugh.
Walk away. If there is an opportunity to walk away and laugh, use it (you can always pretend that you need to use the restroom). Thus you will be able to laugh as much as you want without offending anyone.