Sunday, 21 August 2011

Funny Business

"...When was the last time you laughed out loud?"

I have been known to ask this of a new client.  It prompts some funny looks, and it's not uncommon that I'm asked what it is that I mean.

Which confirms how important an assessment question this might be.  I see laughter as medicinal.  It's a well known fact that is perhaps too little remembered.  Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. 

"Laughter is by definition healthy."
Doris Lessing

The biophysiology of a good giggle
Laughter can trigger healthy physical changes in the body.  The physical convulsions we experience when we laugh move lymph fluid around the body, which strengthens our immune system.  Laughing boosts our energy levels, diminishes pain, and can protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this medicine is priceless, and relatively accessible. 

With its considerable power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."
E. E. Cummings

A laugh a day, can keep the doctor away...
When we laugh we gulp in air, creating mini hyperventilation sessions which increases the oxygenation of our bodies, at both the cellular and organ level.  Laughter relaxes the whole body, relieving physical tension and stress. 

Laughter boosts our circulation and immune system, decreasing stress hormones whilst increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving resistance to disease.


"Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects."
Arnold Glasow

"I'm thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose."
Woody Allen

The mind altering effects of laughing
Laughter triggers the release of all-important endorphins, the body’s natural 'feel-good' chemicals.  Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter protects the heart, by improving the functioning of blood vessels and increasing blood flow, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.  The chemicals released when we laugh have extraordinary postive effects on our body and mind and can alleviate depression and stress. 

Laughter makes you feel good. And the good feeling that you get when you laugh remains with you even after the laughter subsides. Humor helps you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss. 
More than just a respite from sadness and pain, laughter gives you the courage and strength to find new sources of meaning and hope. Even in the most difficult of times, a laugh - or even simply a smile - can go a long way toward making you feel better. And laughter really is contagious - just hearing laughter primes your brain and readies you to smile and join in on the fun.

Laughing with others is more powerful than laughing alone
Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond can act as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment.
"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."
Victor Borge

Shared laughter is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. All emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationship bonds, but sharing laughter and play adds joy, vitality, and resilience. Humor is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Laughter unites people during difficult times.

"At the height of laughter, the universe is thrown into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities."
Jean Houston

 Humour allows us to be more spontaneous, getting us out of our heads, and away from our troubles and ruminations. When we laugh, we let go of our defensiveness, helping us to forget our judgments, criticisms and doubts. Humour releases inhibitions; when we laugh, we are able to let go of our fears and express ourselves more freely and truly. 

Laughter can dissolve distressing emotions. You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing. Humour helps us relax and recharge, reducing stress and increasing energy, enabling us to stay focused and accomplish more. Humour shifts perspective, and allows us to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. This creates psychological distance, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

...Don't you think it's time you had a laugh?

"A good time to laugh is any time you can."
Linda Ellerbee


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