X
JOIN US

Would you like to be part of creating a happier and more caring society? If so please join our movement, add your pledge and take action - at home, at school, at work or in your community. Together we can make a difference

I will try to create more happiness and less unhappiness in the world around me

join

news

news rss feed rss logo

Laughter yoga for mental health

06 Oct 2016 | Joe Hoare

Joe Hoare 1

"I feel better"

This is the most common reply I get to the question "how do you feel when you laugh?" and the reason is because there's magic in laughter.

When we laugh in an open and good-natured way, we are experiencing a moment of joy, of present-moment awareness, and quite possibly exuberance. In such a moment, we are enjoying our life, so we feel better.

This experience is the antidote to stress, anxiety, worry and worse. Psychologically, it builds our resilience because feeling good is an empowering experience. "Feeling better" feeds our resourcefulness and helps us deal better with life's challenges. It improves our mental health and gives us a more positive and optimistic outlook.

"Choose to be optimistic. It feels better" ~ The Dalai Lama

Fortunately, optimism is a quality we can all develop. Psychologically, we need to go through a process where we challenge our non-optimistic thoughts and feelings, and based on our own experience, replace them with more realistic and accurate ones.

This is proven current psychological practice and at the heart of several approaches to improving mental health.

Laughter yoga helps these processes. There is a simple laughter yoga exercise which involves smiling. In this exercise, you smile a genuine and good-natured smile for 10-15 seconds, ideally at yourself in a mirror.

Doing this usually requires a psychological shift because to keep your smile genuine (ie not be false and insincere), you have to you take control of your mood and put it into a good-natured state. This is brain-training, and can be transformative.

Joe Hoare 2

"What I have learnt …… is being able, at any moment, to choose to enter the state of having a genuine warm smile and that this has a transformative effect on me.  It is as if I have found the last piece of a jigsaw, which holds everything together"

Laughter yoga is often thought of as a group activity, and it usually is. However, as with almost every other practice, it is one that can be on your own too. Learning to keep the practices going when on your own allows the benefits to deepen and grow.

"On the first day I woke up with a headache and cold and was reluctant to start. Even though I felt ridiculous, I still smiled and by the end was genuinely laughing; it's amazing how such a simple task can have a positive effect on your day"

So, even on our own we can use laughter yoga to improve our mental health.

However, laughter yoga is also a group activity. When we do our laughter yoga in a group, it builds connection. One of Dr Kataria's great insights at the outset of laughter yoga was that when we connect with someone else while doing laughter yoga, we become more playful and spontaneous and therefore even more good-natured.

Joe Hoare 3

Connection is an antidote to loneliness. Because loneliness is a major contributor to mental ill-health, the group activities of laughter yoga also help promote mental good health.

But there is much more to laughter yoga than just the psychological aspect. Laughter yoga is a mind-body / body-mind activity. It also uses physical activity and exercises to energise us, and to help us engage with our innate playfulness.

The mind-body / body-mind quality helps activate the biochemical changes on several levels simultaneously, and these changes have been shown to have benefits that can last up to 24 hours. All we need do is keep topping up the benefits.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily" ~ Zig Ziglar

I myself have used laughter yoga smiling exercises for years. I use them at the start of my day, every day. The most straight-forward benefit I have noticed is that morning grumpiness has been banished.

I do the exercise until I feel my mood access a good-natured state of mind, and I feel that experience through my whole body. I do this exercise particularly when tired, sleep-deprived, "rough" or under pressure because exactly as one my clients commented, I too have "found that any task I was going to do post exercise became easier."

Joe Hoare 4

Here is the exercise I do and recommend:

  1. As early as possible in your day, smile warmly and genuinely for at least 10-15 seconds. (This takes a small amount of focus and persistence.)
  2. Even better is to do this exercise in a mirror so you're smiling at yourself. If you find this too difficult at first, just do the simple smiling. It's the 10-15 second aspect that's important.
  3. At the end of your day, repeat this exercise.
  4. Before going to sleep, write down 3 things you've appreciated and/or been grateful for today.
  5. During the week, please be on the lookout for signs that life might be going better. These signs can be easy to miss: an unexpected feeling of comfort; feeling more relaxed in a previously stressful situation; some enjoyment; thinking differently. Keep alert for these indicators that life is going better, and write them down.

I hope this simple laughter yoga exercise has the same benefit on your mental health as it has on mine and thousands of others.

 

Joe   Joe Hoare 5

Joe Hoare is an expert in laughter yoga, who inspires conferences, energises teams, coaches individuals and runs "laughter yoga with Joe", Laughter Facilitation Skills courses. www.joehoare.co.uk

tags

POSTER #8: EMOTIONS

Look for what's good

Emotions 200

Children's kindness inspires commuters

Brockley Metro Kids V2

Pupils at John Stainer School re-branded Anti-Bullying Week as "It's Cool To Be Kind Week" and have been spreading kindness at school and in their local community.
Read more

click to view

Happiness is contagious

Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know.

Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%.

Lucy's story

Lucy Roberts 2

Find out how Lucy used ideas from the Ten Keys to Happier Living to help deal with depression and anxiety: Read Lucy's story

Book: Ten Keys to Happier Living

Ten Keys Book Packshot

Order your copy of our inspiring, science-based book and discover how to live a happier life and help create a happier world.

click to view

Optimism helps us achieve our goals

Research shows that people who are optimistic tend to be happier, healthier and cope better in tough times.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined"
- Henry David Thoreau

click to view

Positive emotions make us more resilient

Our emotions affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads to a tipping point beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things.

Action for Happiness

98944 followers

  • @HelenCrossland: I really love this. Nothing wrong with passion and drive but I'm sure we can be nicer and more compassionate about thin…

    yesterday 10:14am

  • @Vivgrant: Love these wonderful posters from - both wise & uplifting! #teacher5aday #sltchat #primaryrocks https://t.co…

    yesterday 10:14am

  • Be patient with yourself - nothing in nature blooms all year https://t.co/DwpEaCweOi

    yesterday 10:14am

  • @S_Furness_: Use spare time to Do, Make, Learn & Grow. #12x16 was my year long creative project to discover more https:…

    yesterday 2:37am

  • For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness https://t.co/YGSR6lSlpQ https://t.co/La7tWvFiNO

    yesterday 1:56am

  • @TimeToLogOff: A reminder of some wonderful lessons on being in the moment from A. A. Milne. 💙#winniethepoohday #mindfulness #WednesdayW…

    yesterday 12:58pm

  • The Kindness alphabet: A: attention B: breath & body C: caring D: depending E: emotions F: forgiveness G: gratitude… https://t.co/jP29DVB5kF

    yesterday 12:54pm

  • A little progress each day adds up to big results https://t.co/FYsxqggynM

    tuesday 17 jan 11:19am

  • @laurajbouchard: Excited to learn about improving wellbeing & resilience with at today's Manager Forum #selfimprovement

    tuesday 17 jan 8:51am

  • @Chris_Kenworthy: This is good. Recommend reading 'Non-violent communication' by Rosenberg for more on the 'how'. https://t.co/CK0YEJjGw0

    tuesday 17 jan 8:50am

follow us on twitter