We all know the pressures of life – stress, anxiety, and depression are a few that I can think of. Laughter is a good antidote, they say “laughter is the best medicine” and people have used it to cure many ailments.
Norman Cousins wrote a book about how he cured himself through laughter, his studies show that a patient’s sense of well-being can positively affect the function of the immune system and production of cancer-fighting T-cells.
You can’t laugh and be stressed at the same time as they activate opposite sides of the automatic nervous system!
Laughing has many health benefits – it reduces stress hormones, like cortisol, and releases endorphins that boost creativity, energy and mood. It can lift your spirits and the good thing is that research has proved that you can fake laughter and still get the benefits.
When we are stressed our breathing becomes shallow and irregular but when laughing we exhale more carbon dioxide, which allows more oxygen to each cell of the body, especially the brain which needs 25% more oxygen than the rest of the body. This improves efficiency, mental focus, energy and concentration, it improves blood circulation, strengthens the immune system and aids healing.
When we emerge from lockdown, try out a laughter yoga club or arrange a workshop through your organisation and try laughter yoga with your colleagues. It’s great for team building and breaking down barriers.
In the meantime, you can try these exercises at home to pick yourself up and experience the benefits of laughing. You don’t need any equipment or special clothing, just an open and playful mind.
I suggest you do these exercises in front of a mirror as it is great to see yourself as you bring out the childlike aspects of yourself. You may feel silly doing this, but the benefits are great, try them as a 30 day challenge:
- Hearty laughter
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, spread your arms up to the sky, tilt your head back and let out a big laugh that shakes your whole body.
- Lion laughter – Roar
Stick your tongue out and down towards your chin, a big smile on your face, eyebrows lifted high, eyes open wide, hands like a lion’s paw and ROAR like a lion from the belly! Great for facial muscles and throat and improves blood supply to the thyroid.
- Laugh at yourself
You don’t need to take yourself seriously, point a finger at your heart and laugh thinking “It’s okay to laugh at myself, I don’t need to be perfect”.
- Laugh your way through household chores
You don’t need to laugh out loud, even a giggle will shift your mood and energy.
Give them a go and let us know how you get on!