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Laughter group participants share the smiles. Courtesy photo.




Laugh more

Email Marcia (nesainc@aol.com) to learn about local laughter clubs and yoga groups.




Chortles and chuckles
Laugh away your stressful day

01/08/15
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



Laugh, cackle, giggle or guffaw. Whatever you may call it, when you’re feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, a heavy dose of laughter can help to soothe the soul and relieve stress. 

Marcia Wyman, certified laughologist (no joke!) with the New England Center of Laughter, said that laughter is a great stress-buster. 
“It drops the stress hormones down, so it removes stress from the body and increases the happy, feel-good hormones,” she said in a phone interview. “After a laughter session you feel relaxed and energized.”
And yet, many adults don’t laugh as much as they should. 
“Children laugh up to 500 times a day, and for adults it's only 15,” she said. 
Simply laughing for 10 minutes every day can reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase endorphins and serotonin. 
“In the ordinary everyday, we laugh at jokes, humor and comedy, and that’s an external stimuli,” Wyman said.  “If we don't get that, we don't laugh during the day.”
The New England Center of Laughter helps people find true laughter through laughter yoga, an exercise that helps the body release tension. Founded by Dr. Madan Kataria, there are laughter yoga clubs across the country led by certified laughter teachers like Wyman.
Laughter yoga seeks to bring out “joy that we had as children that comes from within,” Wyman said. “It’s a body-based laughter that improves the mind.” 
Instead of hearing a joke that the mind judges and makes a decision about whether to laugh or not, laughter yoga makes laughing a physical reaction. 
“We’re usually laughing at something, and this is laughing with someone,” Wyman said. 
You can up your laughing ante by trying out laughter yoga or by taking a few minutes to giggle as part of your daily routine. Wyman suggested taking a daily task, such as making the bed or picking out an outfit, and just laughing with yourself. 
“The best way is to put a picture of people smiling around your mirror, and that initiates a smile,” she said. “The smile eventually develops into a laugh. If you do it for 40 days, it becomes a habit.”
Having a hard time getting the good giggles going? Fake it. Wyman said that researchers have found that the body doesn’t know the difference between fake and real laughter. 
“Even if you fake laughter, the body immune system will kick in,” she said. “The beauty of laughter is it’s very contagious and universal.”
Wyman said the idea behind laughter groups and encouraging daily chuckles is to bring more joy and less stress into people's lives. 
“We are so stressed out, so [busy] multitasking, so that perhaps if we got a little joy in our world through people laughing, the world itself would become happier.” 
 
As seen in the January 8, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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