Why laughter really is the best medicine
When was the last time you had a really good laugh? One of those deep, belly-aching laughs that leaves you in tears and renders you incapable of forming coherent sentences. If you can’t remember, it’s been too long, and according to laughter coach Lisa Sturge, you could missing out on the associated health benefits of a quality giggle.
Laugh yourself healthy
Not only does laughing release the feel-good hormone serotonin, a hearty dose of laughter produces gamma brainwaves similar to those released by meditation, which gives you clarity of mind and helps you sort out your thoughts. The change in heart rate and blood pressure can increase blood flow by as much as 22 per cent, flushing your system with nutrients and oxygen, and the accompanying muscle contractions help release tension. A bout of extended laughter can even boost lymph flow, causing it to travel 15 times faster than normal, which increases your white blood cell production and bolsters your immunity.
Banish neg thoughts
It’s not just your body that benefits from laughter, says Sturge. “Laughter frees us from our habitual patterns and makes us glow from the inside out. It encourages us to be more of who we are, rather than who we think we should be. When we laugh, we’re in the present moment.”
Bring on the LOLs
Besides from watching epic gym fails and cats on YouTube, practise chuckling more regularly by playing with different laughs, says Sturges. Her only rules? Never force a laugh and keep it short. Here’s how to do it:
-Perfect your smile: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides. Breathing slowly, take your attention to the area just below you belly button and imagine a smile there. Connect with this smile and imagine it travelling down your legs to your toes. Picture a smile on the soles of your feet. On an inhale, smile outwardly as you rise onto your toes and bring your arms up as high as you can, then lower back down as you exhale on an audible “haaaa”. Repeat twice more, then stand still, imagining a smile somewhere in your body.
-Breathe it out: Inhale in front of a mirror (or a partner) and, as you exhale, make funny faces (with sound if you’re game), using your hands to contort your face.
-Try not to laugh: Sit facing a partner and take turns making creative sounds at each other. No smiling or laughter is allowed, but let’s see how long you last, shall we?
-Let it go: With a partner or a group of friends, lie on your backs and rest your head on another person’s belly. Laugh gently, or uncontrollably – whatever’s easier.