Laughter is the best medicne!

This past month has felt heavy with the growing number of cases, ICU admissions, and the continued lockdowns. We are regularly learning about new ways to cope with the constant change and uncertainty in hopes that it will resonate with someone. They say laughter is the best medicine, so this week, we want to explore the restorative effects of laughing and how it is sometimes okay to find humour in difficult situations.

Did you know:

10-15 minutes of belly laughter can burn approximately 40 calories?

When we are stressed, our natural response is to fight, flight, or freeze. Once our body is engaged in such states, we are not able to heal. It is a protective reaction when we are faced with a threat, but when it is happening too often, it can distort cognitive functioning and create negative impacts on our mental health.

During a moment of stress, our breathing becomes shallow. This makes it challenging to think and come up with solutions. The brain needs 25% more oxygen than the rest of the body, which it does not receive if we are not properly breathing. Through laughing, we can regulate our breathing. How?  Well, when we are laughing so hard, we need to gasp for air, and through that breath we get out of our heads. Meaning, we have come back to the present and are no longer consumed by what triggered our stress. 

Did you know:

We have three times the amount of lymph in our body than we do blood?

Our heart pumps the blood, but our body needs to circulate the lymph, which is done through breath and movement.  Laughing moves our diaphragm, which aids in this lymph functioning.

Additional benefits of laughing:
  • Enhances social connection
  • Relaxes the body
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Helps diffuse conflict
  • Increases resilience
  • Boosts mood
  • Reduces pain
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Releases tension
  • Opens up creativity
how can we prime our laughter muscle?

Overhaul your social media

Ever heard of the law of attraction? Well, there are algorithms for that now! Monitor your daily diet of negativity by unfollowing accounts that trigger upsetting feelings and follow ones that make you feel inspired, grateful, motivated, and of course those that bring about a smile. Remember, what we put out there, we get back. 

train your brain

What if we could identify our stressors and react to them with laughter? Next time you are driving, and someone cuts you off, laugh. It sounds silly, but when something happens out of your control, what you are in control of is your response, so laugh it off when you can and see situations in a less threatening light.

fake it 'till you make it

The act of smiling, whether natural or forced, releases feel-good endorphins. It will lead to a genuine smile and then laughter easily follows. 

sing and dance

Putting on your favourite song enhances your sensory experience and can set the mood you want to be in. Dancing releases endorphins and can be quite cathartic and fun, leading to laughter.

find joy

Stop living for conditional happiness. Instead of ‘I’ll be happy when…’ ‘I can be happy IF…’ find joy in the day-to-day moments, whether it is in the middle of your work day or spending time with family and friends. While it is important to have goals, putting off happiness takes us away from experiencing the present to its fullest.
 
“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” – Bob Ross

watch funny videos

The best way to laugh on demand is to put on a comedy, sit com, or watch funny videos online. They are created with the purpose of making you laugh, so if you are feeling down, uplift yourself with a quick chuckle.

try laughter yoga

Yes, you read that correctly! Laughter yoga takes breathing and movement exercises to promote deliberate laugher. Usually taking place in a group setting, laughter yoga raises our vibrations and teaches us not to take ourselves so seriously. Check out this free laughter yoga class:  http://www.cathysclub.com/

play with your children or pets

Nothing brings out our inner child like going directly to the source. Kids find humour in ordinary things and circumstances and animals tend to do things that we find amusing. If you don’t have access to these groups, try to embody their playful and explorative nature, they are comfortable making mistakes and experimenting with different possibilities!

share the giggles

Laughter is contagious so when we surround ourselves with funny people or share humourous stories, we feed off the energy of others. Keeping it lighthearted and laughing together strengthens connections and shows we see the world in a similar way. Even smiling at strangers can make them and you feel good.

shift your perspective

You can’t feel sad, anxious, or angry when you are laughing. Adopting a humourous perspective creates a psychological distance which can protect against feeling overwhelmed. 
Relaxation techniques:

For falling asleep: 

With your eyes closed, trace a figure 8 around your eyes with your finger until you yawn.

Rub your hands together to create heat in your palms.  Close your eyes and cup your palms over your eyes.  Hold for 10 seconds and deeply breathe in and out for the duration.

For instant stress relief: 

Triple Warmer Smoothie

For balancing energy: 

Use your fingers to lightly tap 5 times under your eyes, then move to the collarbone for 5 more taps, finishing with 5 taps under the ribs.

Have you had your daily dose of laughter?

Sources:

Cathy Nesbitt from the Mental Health Online Symposium for Entrepreneurs Webinar Series hosted by The David Cohen Group

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm

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