There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being dragged into something you really don’t want to do.
Across the country, thousands of employees greet with trepidation the annual office email announcing the annual away day team-building exercise with thoughts of:
What ridiculous outfit am I going to have to climb into this time?
Please don’t make me tell an embarrassing story from my childhood as a trust exercise…
Am I going to have to pretend to enjoy myself just to be seen as a team player.
I remember it well from my corporate office days. Ice-breakers like ‘share 4 statements about yourself, only 1 of them is not true: can your team guess which is false’. For the purposes of this blog:
- I drank a cup of tea with Boy George.
- My favourite colour is yellow.
- I’ve whizzed around a racetrack with V8 Superchamp Craig Lowndes.
- I am allergic to seafood and alcohol.
(I disclose at the end of this blog. Did you guess?)
When it comes to ‘away days’ and ‘workplace team retreats’, many people just aren’t in the mood. Who has time, they’ll argue. And do we really need to be chummy if we get in and get the job done?
Strange as it may sound, laughter yoga could well be the perfect solution for a less than enthusiastic workforce.
The reason: you don’t have to be ‘in the mood’ to do laughter yoga.
You may well be tired, depressed, full of worries: the thought of laughing could be the last thing on your mind! However as long as you’re willing to have a go, laughter could prove to be the best team-building activity you ever do—relaxing yet energising, connecting and fun.
You see, laughter yoga isn’t about walking into a room and telling a bunch of jokes. It’s actually a unique exercise routine combining laughter, initiated as playful physical exercise, with yoga breaths. This process is carried out in a group while maintaining eye contact. before long, the laughter catches and becomes ‘real’. Even if it doesn’t, as long as you participate willingly, you feel the benefits.
That’s because—and this is a really amazing thing—the brain doesn’t discern the differences between ‘fake’ and ‘real’ laughter, it simply notes that the person is laughing and that is the cue to release a flow of feel-good chemicals.
There’s another element at play here too, one clinical psychologists are familiar with: the two-way link between motion and emotion, body and mind. Whatever happens to the mind happens to the body and what happens to the body happens to the mind. If you feel down and decide to slump in a chair or pull the doona over your head, you’re likely to stay ‘down’ and sluggish. My mother never tolerated ‘the blues’ and would say “Pull your socks up, step out and get on with the day”. There was no chance to hibernate under the doona in our house! She was spot-on. Facing the day and being active in the world can lead to changes in mood through motion.
In short, laughter yoga synchronises body and mind, and while it may be the last thing we want to do, it might be just what we need to do.
So whether you like it or not, I encourage you to take your next away day seriously and book in a session of laughter yoga. You’ll be enhancing wellbeing seriously, through laughter.
(Note: Laughter yoga, as with any aerobic exercise, has some contraindications that include hernia, heart problems with chest pain, major surgery int the past 3 months, epilepsy, high blood pressure not controlled by medication, prolapsed slipped disc, bleeding haemorrhoids or acute illness such as flu. See your doctor first if in doubt about your physical condition.)
(c) Heather Joy Campbell 2018
Heather Joy Campbell is a certified laughter yoga teacher and global ambassador for Laughter Yoga International. Brisbane-based, she travels throughout Queensland delivering workplace and community wellbeing workshops and training laughter yoga leaders. She also runs a community laughter club. Her previous working life as a journalist presented many awesome opportunities including a cup of tea with Boy George and a V8 ride with Craig Lowndes. She is (unfairly) allergic to both seafood and alcohol. Her favourite colour is purple!