26 May 2016

Laughter is the best medicine

From Upbeat, 1:27 pm on 26 May 2016

Did you know adults only laugh 20-30 times a day while a child will laugh more than 300. Why is that? Are we less happy when we don't laugh as much? Laughter coach Hannah Airey helps people find their voice in difficult times.

Laughing baby

Photo: Flickr user Kaspar Palgi / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

An extract from the interview:

Hannah Airey: [Laughter yoga] is when people come together in a group and through eye contact and gentle stretching and breathing exercises and laughing exercises, they start to stimulate laughter. Whether that’s genuine or just fake laughter it soon becomes real laughter. It’s got nothing to do with the exercise yoga – what it has got to do with is breath.

So there’s a physical effect when you laugh. What about mentally, though? Does laughter have osme kind of impact on the chemistry of the body, and therefore the brain chemistry, as well?

Hannah Airey: Absolutely. When you laugh, apart from the physical benefits the psychological benefits are huge. When you laugh you start to release your feel good hormones, your endorphins and serotonin… Even by smiling the muscles in the face tell the brain to start releasing the endorphins and serotonin into the body. It also halts the cortisone and adrenaline hormones – your stress hormones.

In essence, it’s like a natural antidepressant.

Absolutely. It’s the body’s natural antidote to stress.

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