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The Surprising Benefits of Laughter Therapy

Benefits of Laughter Therapy

In a world filled with stress and anxiety, it's easy to overlook the simple solution right in front of us: the benefits of laughter therapy. The power of laughter in improving mental health is often underestimated, but the benefits are truly remarkable. I wanted to explore the unexpected advantages of laughter on mental health and explore how incorporating more moments of joy and humour into your daily routine can transform your overall health.

I can often use humour as a defence/coping mechanism, and although this isn't strictly "recommended" to improve mental health, I think as long as I understand why I use it this way and I am mindful of the discomfort underneath it, then it's ok. I tend to think that laughing is the ultimate expression of happiness, it's extremely difficult to fake and almost impossible to contain. Laughing explodes from you.

Understanding the Science Behind Laughter and Mental Health

To truly grasp the impact of laughter on mental health, let's first look into the science behind it and some interesting facts you may not have known.

  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, our body's natural feel-good chemicals, which can help reduce stress levels and improve overall mood.

  • Laughter increases oxygen flow to the brain, stimulating brain function and promoting mental clarity.

  • The same pleasure sensors in the brain that are activated when we eat chocolate become active when we find something funny. Laughing is a natural high and a 2003 brain-scan study published in the journal Neuron found that the dopamine reward centres and pathways in the brains of subjects lit up when they were treated to a funny cartoon, but not when they were shown an unfunny version.

  • Research has linked laughter with boosts in immune function, pain tolerance, cardiovascular health and maybe even memory retention.

  • A 2002 study in Psychological Reports reveals that forcing yourself to laugh (or even just smile) can improve your mood. The human brain is not able to distinguish spontaneous laughter from self-induced

  • A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterwards.

  • If you are in a room full of people laughing, you will instinctively look at the person you are closest to.

  • You can’t feel anxious, angry, or sad when you’re laughing.

Let's see if we can trigger some laughter now.. this is what happens when you put a series of people with unusual laughs in a room together...

Boosting Mood and Improving Overall Well-Being with Laughter

In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, laughter has the power to boost mood and improve overall well-being. By incorporating more laughter into your daily routine, you can experience a positive shift in your mental health that can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. Laughing not only helps to alleviate stress and anxiety but also enhances your emotional well-being, providing you with a valuable tool for maintaining a healthy mind.

To incorporate more laughter into your daily routine for better mental health, consider seeking out opportunities for humour in your day-to-day life. Whether it's watching a funny movie, listening to a comedy podcast, or spending time with friends who make you laugh, finding moments of levity can have a significant impact on your overall well-being. You can infuse humour into your daily interactions by sharing jokes, funny stories, or amusing anecdotes with those around you.

Laughter always seems so spontaneous so how can you integrate it into your day when you aren't sure how;

  • Try keeping a laughter journal, write down 3 things in a day you found amusing

  • Watch stand-up comedy

  • Listen to a funny podcast

  • Watch a comedy TV show or film

  • Spend time with friends or make a phone call (facetime preferable)

  • If you love a doom scroll try watching humorous videos instead of being on social media

  • Play games or have a games night once a week

  • Try laughter therapy (see more below)

Reducing Stress and Anxiety Through Laughter Therapy

Laughter therapy is a form of therapy that incorporates humour and laughter exercises, to improve mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, depression and PTSD. From what I can gather through my own research the therapy itself is incorporated into traditional talking therapies or given as an activity or "homework" outside of the therapy room. It is advised that 15 minutes per day be spent in the pursuit of laughter, this is the suggested duration of time to start seeing the benefits in your body and mind. It is important to understand your own sense of humour first so we aren't subjected to a series of pointless knock-knock jokes. The best laughter is genuine joyous laughter not nervous, please pleasing laughter.

Here are some descriptions of the different types of humour:

Slapstick: Also referred to as a physical comedy, where humour is mostly conveyed through physical actions. Slapstick comedy is characterized by broad humour, absurd situations, and vigorous, usually violent action. This form of comedy is usually obvious, scripted and rehearsed.

Deadpan: Also referred to as dry humour or dry wit, deadpan comedy is often delivered without expressing any emotion. Jokes are usually delivered with little to no expression and can be very blunt and honest.

Satire: Mostly topical or observational comedy. Satire is often delivered with exaggeration and irony, ridicule is used to criticize and expose flaws in human nature and behaviour. Satire can be described as sarcasm in most cases and is used frequently in television shows.

Insult: Aggressive form of comedy. Insult comedy is a comedy genre in which the act consists mainly of offensive insults, usually directed at the audience or other performers. Typical targets for insult include people in the show's audience, the town hosting the performance, or the subject of a roast. A roast is a type of insult comedy, where multiple people will stand up and poke fun at a specific person.

Word Play: As the comedy genre wordplay is more of an intellectual-based genre. Often in a language, a word can have two very different meanings and it's these double entendres that wordplay comedy focuses on. The jokes or puns may not be directly obvious at the start and it may take an audience a second or two to realise the joke.

Self-deprecating: Self-deprecating humour is a form of self-awareness, but the person using that humour only points out what they think are negative things or things they don’t like about themselves, but says it aloud in a funny, joking way. You can joke about something you don’t like about yourself physically, something about your personality

Awkward: If you are unintentionally funny, it means that you are not trying to be funny, but your words or actions end up being humorous to others. This type of humour can be found through videos and tv shows such as the 90's classic "You've been framed", slips and trips would be considered unintentional comedy as you are laughing at the misfortune of others.

Dark Humour: Controversial humour. Black comedy, also known as dark comedy, morbid humour, gallows humour, black humour, or dark humour, is a style of comedy that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo, particularly subjects that are normally considered serious or painful to discuss.

Situational: Comedy is derived from the events that occur in the moment based on the circumstances. This type of comedy can be based on errors made such as being lost or not understanding another language.

Improv: is a form of theatre/stand-up in which most or all of what is performed is unplanned. Comedians will come up with something they deem "funny" on the spot. Usually, this type of comedy is performed as a group in which they bounce off of each other's previous comments.

So now you know your sense of humour inside out, make a plan on how you will enorporate it into your day to day life and give laughter therapy a go!

Want to know more alternative types of therapy or what method is best suitable for you try some of our other blogs:

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