Why is it that every year, Christmas ‘sneaks up’ on us? It’s supposed to be a joyful time. Instead, for many, the blood pressure builds and the nerves frazzle as we try to complete gargantuan lists – of presents, of ‘must have’ food and drink, of social catch-ups that strangely haven’t managed to be fitted in all year but must happen now…
It’s enough to make you want to scream. Instead, try laughing. Not just a five second half-hearted ‘hahaha’ but a half hour of really hearty ‘hohoho’ing.
Laughter yoga developed 21 years ago in India as a blend of deep cleansing yogic breathing, chanting, clapping and simulated laughter, channelling an often-lost playfulness.
And given the proven health benefits of laughter—from lowering stress levels to improving blood pressure, immune system and mood—it’s little wonder that laughter yoga can now be found in 110 countries globally.
Granted, you may not feel like adding something else to those lists but giving laughter yoga a try now may be just what you need.
- Sustained hearty laughter is aerobic. A Stanford University study measured the cardio impact of 10 minutes hearty laughter as equalling 30 minutes on a rowing machine!
- Laughter provides a scalpel-free mini facelift. Your facial muscles get a real work-out and your skin glows from all that fresh oxygen coursing through you.
- Laughter yoga changes mood within minutes by releasing the body’s natural happy hormones. You will stay cheerful and in a good mood throughout the day and find yourself laughing more than you normally do, topping the ‘feel goods’ up. When your mood is good, you can get on and do more, happily and effectively.
- That happy hormone cocktail also tells the body to stress less. Blood pressure drops, heart rate slows and an overall sense of peace replaces anxiety or stress.
- Laughter helps to create a positive mental state to deal with negative situations and negative people. It gives hope and optimism to cope with difficult times – like the rellies from hell visiting on Christmas Day!
BONUS: Your application to be ‘Santa’ next year will be far more realistic. HOHOHO.
Attending a ‘laughter club’ is a no cost/low cost way of experimenting with laughter as a wellbeing tool. Use this link to find a laughter club near you. The Gap Kookaburras, meeting in the Brisbane suburb of The Gap on Saturdays at 9am for a 30 minute laugh-out, is 1 of 3 laughter clubs in Queensland’s capital city.
Can’t make it to a laughter club anytime soon? Read how to do a few ‘laugh alone’ exercises.
And try smiling more. Our brains are hard-wired to respond positively to laughter and smiles. Put a smile on the dial and you may well also find the spirit of Christmas emerges along with your inner child: hohoho!
(c) 2016 Heather Joy aka Heather Joy Campbell