Research to back it up.
Laughter Yoga helps Vets reduce post-traumatic stress
Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke
When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here’s why. By Mayo Clinic Staff
Whether you’re guiltily guffawing at an episode of “South Park” or quietly giggling at the latest New Yorker cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.
Stress relief from laughter
A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
- Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
- Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
- Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:
- Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
- Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
- Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
- Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and make you feel happier.
Improve your sense of humor
Are you afraid you have an underdeveloped — or nonexistent — funny bone? No problem. Humor can be learned. In fact, developing or refining your sense of humor may be easier than you think.
- Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humor boost.
- Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
- Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
- Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library’s selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.
- Know what isn’t funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful, one.
Laughter is the best medicine
Go ahead and give it a try. Turn the corners of your mouth up into a smile and then give a laugh, even if it feels a little forced. Once you’ve had your chuckle, take stock of how you’re feeling. Are your muscles a little less tense? Do you feel more relaxed or buoyant? That’s the natural wonder of laughing at work.
Laughter Yoga as Eustress Or Stress Buster
Hans Selye described laughter as a form of Eustress. This means that it is a positive, life-enhancing type of stress. Laughter has a built-in balancing mechanism that encourages the two-step action of stimulation and relaxation, due to the release of the chemicals – Adrenaline, and Noradrenaline. This produces a feeling of wellbeing, by relieving the minor stresses and strains of daily life. Laughter reduces anxiety, tension and depression. Thus, laughter helps in mitigating several serious diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, in which anxiety and tension are predisposing factors.
Kay Herth (American Journal of Nursing 1984) has documented reduction of Hypertension after Laughter Therapy. Many of our members have reaped the beneficial effects of laughter in reducing hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, insomnia, etc.
Now modern medicine is proving this with research that has shown that Smiling and Laughing cause physiological changes in the human body. After a bout of Laughter, it is observed that there is a reduction in Cortisol, a chemical that indicates Stress in the body, and an increase in mood elevating Endorphins. Laughter is also thought to improve Circulation, stimulate the Nervous System, heighten the immune system, and make the heart stronger.
Laughing releases the tension of pent-up feelings and can help us keep things in perspective. Laughter is one of the body’s safety valves, a counter balance to tension. When we release that tension, the elevated levels of the body’s stress hormones drop back to normal, thus allowing our Immune Systems to function more effectively.
Dr. Robert Holden, tells us in his book “Living Wonderfully”: “Social psychology research shows that children laugh on average 150 times a day; adults laugh on average only six times a day.During an average day, a child will smile 400 times; an adult will smile no more than 15 times.” When we grew up, somehow we lost over a hundred laughs and hundreds of smiles a day. By learning to smile and laugh again, more easily and more often, we could make profound and positive effects to our health and well being.
Laughter Lowers Blood Pressure
Laughter Yoga and Chronic Stress
Chronic stress lasts for a long time or occurs frequently. It is potentially damaging. Family problems, a difficult class at school, a schedule that is too busy, or a long illness can cause chronic stress. Nowadays, chronic stress is one of the primary causes of most of diseases. There are many ways to control chronic stress, like exercise, proper diet, time management, adequate rest, and relaxing hobbies. Laughter Yoga is the most economical, less time consuming, fun exercise which is easy to learn. Anyone can do it. All you need is little time and commitment.
Gelotology is the study of humor and laughter, and its effects on the human body. It is also the psychological and physiological study of Laughter. The word geloto is derived from the Greek gelos and it means Laugh, Laughter, laughing. The word Gelotology is often misspelled as Gelatology. There is well documented and ongoing research in this field of study.
Interesting Heart Study
(Information courtesy of the Laughteryoga.org website ,with permission from Dr. Kataria)