Laugh Out Loud! #LOL

Our client Rebecca from Haelan Therapy, features in Womans Own magazine in the article "Why Laughter is the best medicine" 

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There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. 

Laughter helps you to relax

A good hearty laugh relieves physical tension by stimulating circulation and encourage muscle relaxation.  It lessens anxiety and negative thoughts and provides a physical and emotional release which leaves the body feeling lighter and more at ease.

Lowers blood pressure

If you laugh deeply from your belly it causes your blood vessels to dilate and encourages a greater flow of blood around your body.  Laughter also lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone which in turn reduces blood pressure.  After you have finished laughing your blood pressure drops below its baseline and this generates deeper breathing which sends more oxygenated blood through the body.

Good for heart health

Laughter helps to reduce artery inflammation and increases high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol).  Mental stress is associated with the impairment of the protective lining of our blood vessels and where laughter helps to reduce stress and anxiety, it is thought that this has a positive effect on the heart.  Research has shown that people with certain personality types such as those who are angry and hostile have higher rates of heart disease so therefore it is plausible that people with a better sense of humour may have lower heart disease.  “A cheerful heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)

Good for mental health

Research published in 2003 shows that laughter activates an area of the brain which is involved in pleasurable feelings, hence why we feel so good after a good belly laugh.  Laughter helps to reduce mental tension and increases our energy which enables you to stay focused and accomplish more.  Individuals who laugh easily and more frequently have better self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life.  Choosing to laugh doesn’t change what is going on in your life, but it can change how you perceive it.  “Laughing is, and will always be, the best form of therapy”  Dau Voire. 

Natural pain reliever and immunity booster

It’s no joke, laughter is the best medicine! Laughter can decrease stress hormones and increase immune cells which helps the body to fight off infections such as coughs and colds.  It can also trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals and lower cortisol which can promote an overall sense of wellbeing and feeling of lightness.  Laughter cannot take away the pain, but it can detract from its intensity

 Burns calories

Scientists have proven that just 15 minutes of laughter a day will burn between 10 – 40 calories, around 4lbs a year!  Laughter causes the heart to beat faster sending larger amounts of blood around the body.  It also encourages the chest to rise more rapidly meaning the muscles in this area are working harder as a result.  Laughter also requires greater effort from your abdominal region causing you to burn more calories. 

 Helps you bond with others

Laughter releases endorphins which makes us feel good about ourselves and those around us.   It creates an instant connection with another person and encourages a sense of togetherness.  When you feel good, others will feel the same too.  Laughing and giggling with another increases happiness and a shared experience in that moment.  It diffuses tension and can ease stress in any relationship.  Laughter is contagious; when you smile so will someone else.

Tips for ways to laugh more

Feed your soul with laughter.  Laughter carries a powerful message that says in this moment, everything is ok.  Why not try these tips to help bring a little more laughter into your life.

Start with a smile

As soon as you are awake, before you have even crawled from under your duvet, smile.  Then, if you can, giggle.  Smiling sets the tone of the day.  Go on to set the intention to smile to at least 5 people during your day.  Notice how they respond and know that you have brightened up the day not only for yourself but others around you.  Notice how your body responds when you smile too. 

Create a laughter jar

Find a nice jar and decorate it.  Find some funny jokes and write them on paper.  You may ask your friends and family to do the same.  They can be funny anecdotes or simple reminders of the funny things you have done in the past.  Put them in the jar and then when you are feeling the need for laughter in your life go to the jar, pull out a joke or story and put a smile on your face!

Laughter yoga

Yes it is true and is becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce stress, heal your body and have a jolly good time.  It is the practice of prolonged voluntary laughter.  It tends to take place in groups and encourages eye contact, jokes and playfulness between group members. 

Make time for fun

Play connects us with our inner child.  Dance, horse-ride, play hide and seek, paint, tell jokes, sing.  Whatever fun means for you, make it happen at least once a week.  Release the child within.

Learn to laugh at yourself

Release the pressure and take life a little less seriously.  Most of us are too serious which limits our ability to be able to see the funny side of life.  It can make us uptight and sensitive to the behaviours of others.  Laughing at yourself allows you to be more authentic.  Give yourself the permission to be silly at least once a day and see how your body responds.

Laughter meditation

Find a comfortable place to sit.  Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath.  Allow yourself to take a few deep breaths and feel the tension release from your body.   In your mind’s eye see an image of something you find funny – it might be an experience you have had or that you have witnessed.  It could be a funny joke.  Once you have the feeling of laughter, allow it to spread throughout your body from the top of your head right down to the tip of your toes. See further images that make you laugh and continue to spread this feeling throughout your body.  Enjoy the moment and notice how you feel. 

Hang out with people who have a sense of humour

Take note of who makes you laugh and spend time with them.  Laughter helps increase social bonds so call up that friend who only has to speak and you’re rolling around the floor in stiches, or grab a coffee with the co-worker who does the funniest of impressions.

Do more of what makes you laugh

When was the last time you laughed?  What were you doing?  Make a note of it and do more of it!  Simple!