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| January 19, 2019

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Laugh as Medicine -Six Tips from Laughter Expert Ann O’Keife

Laugh as Medicine -Six Tips from Laughter Expert Ann O’Keife
Helen Thatcher

After writing about collaboration in my last blog, I thought I would apply the principles immediately, and ask for help this week in creating this blog post.  I have a wonderfully talented friend called Ann O’Keife. She is a coach, rune specialist and Laughter Yoga teacher, who is highly skilled in supporting people to Live Life Fully by bringing ancient wisdom into modern contexts.

Ann is also a gifted writer and is running a Writing for Well-being Workshop on 30th September. I  invited her to be a guest Blogger here and tell us all about the benefits of Laughter Yoga…

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone” Laments the eponymous Solitude poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

“It seems that it’s absolutely true”, says Sophie Scott, a neuroscientist at the University College London.

Laughter has been long known to help people who suffer from SAD and full blown depression. Laughing reduces tension and stress, lowers anxiety and irritation, which are all major factors that contribute to the blues.

In a study published in the Geriatrics and Gerontology international, it was found that laughter therapy reduced depression in elderly patients by inducing a feeling of well being and improved their social interactions. Plus, just hearing others laugh, even for no apparent reason, can often trigger genuine laughter.

According to a research, laughter is truly contagious: the brain responds to the sound of laughter and preps the muscles in the face to join in the mirth. You’re many times more likely to laugh around other people than when you’re alone. And the more laughter you bring into your own life, the happier you and those around you will feel. A British study shows that just 15 minutes of laughter can increase pain tolerance by around 10% as   a result of endorphins being released into the brain. These feel good hormones akin to a natural “high”, leading to temporary pain relief and feelings of calm.

MIND, the leading mental health charity and campaigners, include Laughter yoga on their website, as a physical exercise that can alleviate depression, help reduce anxiety and assist those you have bi polar.

6 top tips to create more laughter in our lives:-

  • Learn to laugh at ourselves. Lighten up; find the silly, absurd and daft in every day life.
  • Watch, read or listen to uplifting and funny movies, stories, books, podcasts, radio shows, jokes and magazines.
  • Remember some of the funny things or moments in life. Create a Happy board (with pictures/postcards/words) and put it somewhere you can see in your home. It creates a “happy memory bank” to draw upon.
  • Find your inner child. The art of playing and messing about, on your own or with others. Just for the pure joy and fun of it.
  • Smile more. It uses less facial muscles and can change yours and others day for the better.
  • Deal with worries and stresses when they arise. Yogic breathing as part of laughter yoga practise can help release painful emotions and reduce blood pressure. Laughter is a powerful medicine.

Some recent participants in my own Laughter Yoga group, who suffer from mental health issues, shared their experiences of laughing together in a group. One person said it had helped them get out of bed on winter mornings. The benefits of a one hour class had helped another person “feel good all over” for the whole week. Another older lady hadn’t laughed with other people for so long; she felt it was so easy and so natural; she wished she’d known about laughter groups many years ago.

What a true privilege to hear this. And I am sure everyone who read this has similar experiences too.

Perhaps prescriptions of daily laughter yoga will be on the NHS one day soon.

Find out more about Ann and her Happy Monday Laughter Yoga Course HERE




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