I believe that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
There are people who come into your life for a reason, because of a need you have expressed; they are there for that purpose, and then move on.
There are people who come into your life for a season – a time of joy and sharing, growth and learning or teaching.
And then there are the lifers who influence all areas of life, long-time.
I believe that’s true of activities too. The enforced isolation restrictions of recent months certainly allowed many Australians to explore or reconnect with hobbies, laughter yoga among them.
NerdBear analysed recent Google search trends to find the most popular hobbies at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak as we sought things to do with time on our hands.
The top 5 hobbies, according to NerdBear, were:
- watching TV and movies
- arts and craft
- board games.
Hobbies are so much more than ‘a bit of fun’ or ‘time wasters’. They can:
- reduce stress
- improve mental alertness and concentration
- enhance creativity
- enable us to grow
keep us physically active
- create connections with others.
Laughter yoga goes online
Soon after COVID-19 restrictions came into place, I started running laughter yoga sessions using a video-conferencing platform. Like many—from churches to gyms, doctors’ surgeries to classrooms—this was foreign territory. I’d only ever delivered sessions face-to-face in the park, in halls, in aged care or workplaces.
Initially the sessions were with people I knew —familiar faces from the laughter club I run as a weekly community service in my neighbourhood. Within a couple of sessions, ‘strangers’ were joining. From Mackay to Adelaide, from The Gap to Melbourne. It’s said that the shortest distance between friends is a smile: those online laughter yoga sessions
created important connections during an extended time when we couldn’t satisfy that basic human need for companionship face-to-face.
With my home state of Queensland moving to Stage 3 of the easing of restrictions last week, opportunities abound to go out, gather, shop, and ‘get on with life’. Had laughter yoga online fulfilled its purpose?
I asked participants a few questions. Let me share some responses:
Why did you do laughter yoga online during iso?
For most people, it was about feeling connected with others and feeling ‘happy’.
Recognition of the physiological benefits were evident too.
“I participated for breathing exercise particularly with swimming and singing not available,” offered one regular from a regional city that doesn’t have a laughter club of its own.
“I consider laughter yoga is a great exercise for the lungs. It helps clear out the cobwebs. Laughing and taking in deeper breaths is a great workout for the lungs and a result, all the other organs benefit,” said another.
How did a session make you feel afterwards?
Responses were of a theme: ‘much happier’, ‘recharged’, ‘fresher outlook’, ‘uplifted’.
What was the hardest aspect of ‘iso’ for you?
All participants revealed not having personal contact with family and friends was what was missed most.
Did laughter yoga help you with that?
This reply underlined the general response. “Laughter sessions help me keep laughing and smiling and
feeling good as opposed to being despondent. They are something to look forward to.”
Is laughter yoga an activity you expect to continue?
The Happydemic’s laughter yoga online, and sessions offered by other laughter yoga practitioners, seems to be here to stay. Whether for a season or a lifetime, time will tell.
What hobby did you turn to during ISO? How did it sustain you?
(c) 2020 HeatherJoy Campbell
HeatherJoy Campbell is Queensland’s leading trainer and facilitator of
laughter wellbeing workshops, using the platform of laughter yoga, in
workplaces, communities, and aged care – and online! She runs The Gap Laughter Club in Brisbane, Australia, and delights in training ‘laughter yoga leaders‘.