What happens when we laugh?
We are of a unique species in that we have the ability to laugh, and our brains have the capacity to process a joke and decide whether something is laughable. This sets us aside from most animals, as ‘not every species has the capacity to chuckle.’ (BBC Bitesize) Scientifically, laughter is believed to be a spontaneous act that occurs in our brains, stimulating a chain of events caused by ‘the frontal lobe at the very front of the brain, which determines our emotional responses, plays a part, along with the limbic system.’ (BBC Bitesize)
And unlike other forms of relaxation such as yoga, Pilates, or exercise classes, laughter is available to all, whatever your fitness level, size, or occupation. It is something that requires no technique, organisation or preparation and is personal to the individual.
‘There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.’ (Charles Dickens)
Why is laughter so important to humans?
Laughter is something that comes naturally to us. Babies can laugh within a few months of being born, and children find the joy in life through play, jokes, and laughter. Finding laughter as adults has the potential to bring us all joy.
‘A day without laughter is a day wasted.’ (Charlie Chaplin)
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are number of short-term and long-term benefits to the body from the simple act of laughter. These can include –
- Stimulate many organs.
- Activate and relieve your stress response.
- Soothe tension.
- Improve your immune system.
- Relieve pain.
- Increase personal satisfaction.
- Improve your mood.
And not only are all the above encouraging to hear, but they also come with the added bonus that laughter is totally free. It requires no equipment, little preparation as laughter is most often spontaneous, and anyone can do it. Apart from the tiny risk of a sore tummy from laughing too hard, there are really only positives to laughter!
‘Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.’ (Lord Byron)
What are the benefits of introducing laughter yoga into the workplace?
First of all, what is laughter yoga? Laughter yoga ‘involves breathing exercises with eye contact, jokes and playfulness between participants’ (Joyful Living)
This means that it involves:
- breathing exercises
- laughing exercises
- group dynamics
The workplace can often be viewed as a serious place of work, where meetings, work calls, and individual deadlines are worked towards. Laughter is not a factor one might associate with the workplace. However, ‘from a business perspective, it is extremely beneficial.
The main benefits of laughter yoga can be summarised as:
- increased oxygenation and release of endorphins
- stress relief
- boost to resilience through developing a positive outlook towards situations
- improved team dynamics
In the end, laughter yoga, apart from benefits to each employee’s individual wellbeing, has also the potential to strengthen work relationships, encourage interaction, and to offer an opportunity for employees to step away from their desks physically and mentally and focus on their own wellbeing.
Laughter yoga is accessible to anyone interested, and from a cost perspective, aside from the laughter yoga certified trainer hired, the class could be held within the office environment or even outside in the fresh air, giving employees the added bonus of natural fresh air and sunlight, and with little cost to the employer.