How the power of laughter can boost mind, body and spirit
With everything going on in the world right now, it can sometimes be difficult to see the positives, to make a joke, to laugh or even raise a smile. I know I have certainly felt it over the past few weeks when I’ve made a joke — and I have quite a dark sense of humour. In the current climate, I have stopped to think. Is that too much? Is it appropriate? Should I even be laughing right now? Is laughter bad at a time like this? It is almost as if I feel guilty for those moments of smiling when everything presently feels more anxiety-inducing and sad.
THE POWER OF LAUGHTER
Laughter and humour are positive traits. In the challenging times that we find ourselves in, it becomes even more important to bring these traits into our daily lives. Laughter and humour are proven to boost mind, body and spirit. Think about a time when you were really stressed out or anxious and someone made you laugh, or you genuinely smiled at someone. It is hard to maintain negative emotions when we evoke laughter or humour.
I’m backed by scientific research here, which evidences in a number of ways how laughter and humour benefit our minds and our bodies. A study highlighted how laughter and humour can improve brain connectivity, with our ability to recognise the different types of laughter we might hear, such as tickling laughter compared with taunting laughter. Another study showed how when we laugh we elevate our pain threshold and release endorphins.
Hopefully, I have provided you with enough of the positive physiological benefits of laughter as to why you should be tickling your partner in isolation or binge-watching Big Bang Theory! But if you need further reasons to get your giggle on, there are also numerous psychological benefits to humour.
THE BENEFITS OF HUMOUR
Humour is listed as one of the positive psychology strengths as part of what is called the ‘Values in Action’. The VIA Classification is a free survey you can undertake to determine how the 24 strengths relate to you. Humour is important because it is often a lubricant to building social connections. Think back to before dating apps and swiping right to the old-fashioned dating adverts and GSOH (good sense of humour) — a trait that many looked for, and, of course, still do when finding their ideal match. Let’s face it; no-one ever really thinks, ‘I want my ideal partner to never make me laugh or smile’.
Studies also show that individuals who have a sense of humour often possess a more composed view on adversity; they are capable of seeing the ‘bright side’ which is a valuable coping mechanism when dealing with distressing situations, especially in our world of lockdown and isolation. Of course, we don’t want to be around people who do not take life seriously, but an ability to bring humour at the darkest times can shift the energy, emotions and feelings of those who are less able to do so.
4 Ways you can start to bring humour back into your life right now!
- Try Laughter Yoga! Yes — an actual, real, qualified class, whilst in lockdown. Laughter Yoga Wellness London are still delivering their workshops online. Have a try; it might tickle your fancy.
- Seek out your funny loved ones and friends. This does not mean ignore all the others, but if you are surrounded by people who are positive, upbeat and like to have a laugh it will instantly make you feel better. Give them a call or set up a House Party session as your weekend get together.
- Watch a funny movie or TV show, or listen to a comedy podcast. Whatever your jam of humour: deadpan, dark, satirical, highbrow, slapstick… the list is endless to raise a smile or a big, deep belly laugh.
- Discover your inner child and play! When we are babies our first laugh is one of our milestones. Being around young children can make us laugh, just from the things they say and do. If you don’t have little people in your life, bring back that childhood spirit by playing board games or being creative.
If you want to know more about how positive psychology works, CHAMPS have created an 8-week online coaching programme called My Mental Wealth. The MWealth programme is designed for you to build your own health and wellbeing tools using positive psychology practices. You work through the programme at your own pace but are supported by the Team CHAMPS experts through fortnightly live Zoom coaching calls. The programme is curated so you can meet your own tribe through the closed Facebook Community Group. This is a simple yet effective way to start investing in your own Mental Wealth journey. You can take your first step by downloading a free worksheet on the key pillars of wellbeing.
Ruth Cooper-Dickson is a Positive Psychology Practitioner and qualified Coach, who has studied Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology. She is the Founder and MD of the global mental wealth people consultancy, CHAMPS, partnering with progressive organisations helping them to ingrain a culture of positive mental wealth. Ruth is a passionate runner, an addicted life-long learner and a lover of all things cake!