Laugh often and you will overcome stress. Ralph Waldo Enerson knew this because he included ‘to laugh often and much’ as one of his criteria for success. Using that criterion many of us are failures. because we have forgotten how to laugh.
According to The Laughter Yoga site, the average child laughs 300-400 times a day, while the average adult laughs 10-15 times. The difference is that childtren’s laughter is created physically, arising naturally from their bodies as they play, while adults generally require something funny to laugh at. Laughter Yoga teaches people to laugh for no reason, to laugh from joy in the moment regardless of what else is going on in life.
Laughter Is Good For Every Body
Joy and laughter not only feel good, they also cause positive physiological changes in the body. Laughter releases endorphins which bathes the cells in feel-good chemicals, relaxing the body. Thus it reverses the tension effect of the stress hormones and lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune sytem and reduces pain. The endorphons released also cause a positive effect on the mood, which also reduces stress. These positive effects remain after the laughter has stopped.
In his book, Anatomy of an Illness, Dr. Norman Cousins described how he healed himself from acute ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, by watching funny movies. Laughter has also been callled good exercise. Dr William Fry from Stanford University says that one minute of laughter is equivalent to 10 minutes on a rowing machine.
Re-Learn Laughter and Increase Joy
Those who have forgotton how to laugh often and heartily, can re-learn it through repetition. Neuroplasticity of the brain means that any physical or mental activity that is repeated regularly will lay down new brain pathways. Laughter produces positive emotions through the release of endorphins . Repeating laughter episodes on a frequent and regular basis will train the brain to regularly release endorphins rather than the stress hormones, and so increase joy in life and decrease stress. This builds psychological resilience – the ability to bounce back after a period of stress.
Laughter Yoga is an excellent way to re-learn how to laugh. According to the website it has helped thousands of peoplke overcome severe depression. I found that it took a few times to get used used to laughing for no reason, but then it became easy and fun.
If you want to learn to laugh more often on your own, interact regularly with children, spend time with adults who laugh a lot, and indulge in your favourite brand of humour (books, movies, cartoon) every day. Your cells will thank you and laughing often will help overcome stress.
Phgotocredit: D Sharon Pruit