Laugh your way to happiness
Nowadays, many health professionals, counsellors and therapists are aware of the benefits of laughter. Some hospitals employ laughter professionals to engage with patients, particularly children to help them recover and convalesce after illness. Learning to laugh at our mistakes and finding the humour in difficult situations helps us to be more resilient and cope better.
There is a place for laughter in therapy and hypnotherapy in particular. This tends to happen naturally if you find a therapist who makes you feel at ease and provides a safe environment for you to discuss your feelings. Smiling and and gentle laughter during hypnosis can be a very effective way of re-framing stress and anxiety about particular situations and visualising yourself being happy, smiling and laughing can be an effective self-hypnosis technique to induce feelings of calm and relaxation.
Laughter might not cure your ailments or improve your situation, but it can help you put things into a different perspective and increase your brain’s happy chemicals.
If you can laugh about it you’ll be better able to cope with it. The list of benefits from laughter is long. Here are a few:
Laughter inhibits our stress response and relieves pent up stress.
When we laugh this initially raises our blood pressure but afterwards it creates a relaxation response.
Research has found that laughter helps us cope better with pain. When we laugh we are less likely to experience pain and after prolonged laughter our tolerance to it increases.
A good workout
Laughter is an aerobic exercise which increases the amount of oxygen we take in and stimulates our internal organs.
Prolonged laughter increases our ‘happy chemicals’, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, which leads to feelings of positive emotions and happiness.
Improved immune system
Research has shown that laughter can help to strengthen our immune system so we can more easily fight off infection and stay healthy.
Laughter improves our mood and makes us less likely to focus on negative thoughts.
Laughter is more likely to happen within a social context and help us connect with others.
According to at least one adage, ‘He who laughs, lasts!’
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About Lesley Lyle
Lesley Lyle is a wellbeing and happiness specialist and university lecturer on this subject. She has run free laughter sessions in her community for the past 4 years and is author of the book 'Laugh Your Way to Happiness' (Watkins publishers). Laughter is a common and frequently heard sound, coming from her therapy room at Fenwick Wellbeing Centre.