Skip to content

Laughter yoga reduces stress response, research shows

  • Health
medicine is poured from a bottle onto a small spoon

Do you recall how good you feel after a long hard laugh?

Plenty don’t what with the world’s carryings-on of the past 2 years. Many of us are feeling too stressed to laugh. If you identify, this short blog has information to help relieve that blockage. Seriously.

Stress: when natural goes over the top

Stress is a common and normal physical response to challenging or new situations.

It’s when stress is chronic that it can be a problem; globally, that’s become the reality for lots of people since the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 made itself known in early 2020.

Chronic stress impacts on our mental health. It impacts on our physical health too: high blood pressure, heart problems, headaches, digestive issues; the list goes on. Chronic stress compromises our immune system. In short, chronic stress contributes, long-term, to illness.

Which is why I want to share research published in Stress: The International Journal on the Biology of Stress.

I’ll get right to the point. In laughter yoga we have an affordable accessible easy way to nip stress in the bud before it becomes chronic, and to wind back if you’re already in its clutches.

What is laughter yoga

Laughter yoga is a process that enables us to laugh without jokes or humour, for wellbeing. Developed by a doctor in India in the 1990s, laughter yoga enables us to laugh loud and long on demand, as a physical act rather than an intellectual response.

About the research

German researcher Maria Meier and colleagues investigated the acute effects of a single 30-minute laughter yoga session on the autonomic, endocrine and psychological responses.

Thirty-five healthy adults were randomly assigned to experience laughter yoga, relaxation breathing (or no intervention at all for the control group) prior to their exposure to the Trier social stress test (TSST), a well-established laboratory procedure used to reliably induce stress in human research participants.

I’ll cut to the chase.

Laughter yoga reduces stress hormone, research confirms

Laughter yoga alone reduced cortisol response.

“Although laughter yoga did not change how stressful a situation was perceived, it reduced the amount of stress hormones that were released in response to the situation.

“As such, laughter yoga might be a cheap and easy-to-implement add-on to more traditional stress reduction interventions.”

Maria Meier, Department of Psychology, University of Constance, Germany

Read the research in full

This research is the latest in a growing raft of scientific studies showing laughter yoga is good medicine. You can read about another study, published in 2021, that found a monthly ‘dose’ of laughter yoga could have profound and lasting positive psychological impacts.

How to laugh more for stress relief

There are a number of options for laughing more, without relying on humour:

  1. Social laughter clubs form the grassroots of the Laughter Yoga movement worldwide. Some physical face-to-face social laughter clubs are back in parks: check out Australian locations of laughter clubs  here.

2. You can also laugh online. I host the Sunday playroom at 6pm (AEST) as part of a 7-days-a-week laughter yoga Australia online roster that laughter yoga practitioners have offered since May 2020.  

3. You could take a ‘laughie’. Instead of photographing yourself on your mobile, record yourself laughing for up to 1 minute. Listen to it whenever you feel the need. You won’t be able to stop smiling, or laughing. Better still, share with a friend. Find out more about The Laughie Challenge Australia

4. Perhaps after experiencing the goodness of laughter yoga, you feel moved to acquire laughter yoga skills for your professional or personal toolkit. Check out details of laughter yoga leader training.

I’d love to hear your experience of laughing for wellbeing. Do share. And if I can help you on your laughter wellbeing journey, I’d be honoured.

2022 HeatherJoy Campbell

HeatherJoy Campbell, Queensland’s leading laughter wellbeing professional facilitator, works with workplaces and community groups serious about building and supporting their people’s resilience, connection and mental health.