Create Laughter to Manage Stress

Pretty sure she’s laughing because she got the last toilet paper roll!

Dear Daughters,

Life can be extremely stressful.

For instance, like right now, during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Sometimes you’ll feel like you can’t remember NOT being stressed.

When exhausted, pissed-off, anxious, and binge-eating is your every day normal.

When you can’t recall the last time you laughed your butt off because you’ve lost your sense of humor.

When your go-to stress relievers (wine, ice cream, Cheetos, Amazon, Netflix) don’t work anymore because you overindulged too often and now they are part of the problem.

When you fear one more day in isolation with the kids, one more shift at work risking your health, or sleepless night worrying about people dying, the economy, your future plans…will thrust you over the edge of that cliff. And you’re terrified you won’t find the strength or the will to drag yourself back up.

How do you stop the madness?

How do you regain some measure of control and calm?

Here’s what the females in our family have done for generations.

We laugh even when there’s nothing to laugh about.

We do it because we understand that the positive effects laughter generates will pull us back from the edge.

And if stress has stymied our natural ability to laugh?

We create laughter through playful, silly behavior.

Like Opera Day. When we sing everything we usual speak using really bad, really funny, fake vibratos. (Yeah, I know I said I would never tell but it so much fun! I’m sure others will want to try it!)

And when we can’t we can muster up even Opera Day, we fake it.

We fake it until we make it.

Consider this powerful statement.

We don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh. 

William James

I love this quote.

Because it means laughter is the action we take to create the state of mind we want.

It means we have the power to laugh when we need it.

That laughter is more than just a reaction to external stimuli.

And if we can only fake laugh, that’s okay. We are still creating a whole lot of good health effects because…

Dun, Dun, Duh…

Our bodies can’t distinguish the difference between real laughter and fake laughter.

So get laughing!

Six Health Benefits of Laughter, Real or Fake

  1. Laughter releases endorphins — your feel good chemicals in the same way that the famed runner’s high, sex, and dark chocolate do. (Imagine what combining all of them could feel like?)
  2. Laughter reduces cortisol, your fight or flight stress hormone. Reducing cortisol reduces your blood pressure.
  3. Laughter relaxes your body. It’s like a mini-massage.
  4. Laughter boosts your immune system.
  5. Laughter burns calories and contracts your abs.
  6. Laughter increases oxygen circulation.

(These benefits have been cited in medical journals)

Impressive stuff, right?

Sad fact. As children we laughed approximately 400 times a day, but then we grew up and our laughter frequency plummeted. Studies have shown that adults laugh a meager 10-15 times a day.

Let’s raise that average! Here’s one of my favorite routines to get you started.

Playful Laughter Exercises To Create Laughter

  • Start with a warm up. Repeat ho, ho, ho, ha, ha,ha, hee, hee, hee while walking around clapping your hands.
  • Raise your arms in a stretch to the sun and laugh your joy.
  • Practice an evil genius laughter.
  • Practice a Santa laugh.
  • Practice a rocking chair laugh. Raise your arms, rock down and touch your toes, then rock back and wave your arms back and laugh. Do it five times in a row.
  • Laughter is contagious so share it. Make eye contact and fake laugh with another adult, child, your dog, or even yourself in the mirror.
  • Add another movement element like dancing, singing, jazz hands, high knee stomping.
  • Crank up the drama like this: “I laugh at danger, ahahahaha!”
  • Focus on laughing from your belly.
  • Practice for 20 minutes a day.
  • Find more laughter exercises, watch uplifting videos, and read about the medical doctor who founded Laughter Exercises/Yoga, here.

Bottom Line.

Laughter is an excellent stress reliever.

You can create laughter whenever you want.

Real or fake, it doesn’t matter because you have the power to feel better.

In a natural, healthy way.

Hooray!

All My Love

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