How To Improve Staff Health And Wellbeing
Laughing feels good but what does it do for your mind and body?
According to science – a whole lot of good!
It’s a stress buster, improves relationships, boosts your immune system and so much more.
Because laughter comes naturally, we don’t spend much time thinking about it. We often seek out stimulation to make us laugh (our favourite comedians, funny animal videos, sharing jokes with mates) but have you ever tried laughing just for the sake of it?
If you’re worried about what others think – remember that laughter is contagious. When you start chuckling, they’re more likely to join in than question why you’ve got the giggles.
Practicing Laughter Yoga is the ideal way to feel better every day!
Laughter in the office
Along with making you feel good, our unique ways of laughing become a memorable part of who you are and contribute to the office culture. Laughter in the workplace needs to be encouraged by the leadership thanks to its ability to boost engagement, improve wellbeing, relieve stress and re-energise your team. Research shows that unlike what some people might think – a workplace filled with laughter is more not less productive.
Of course, laughing for the wrong reasons can cause a whole host of conflicts. So it’s important to have clear guidelines around what’s acceptable humour in your organisation and what’s best left at home. (This is why using Laughter Yoga as a safe and beneficial way to get your team laughing is a smart choice.)
Laughing together helps diffuse tension too, making it an ideal way to nurture a happy environment in your workplace.
Laughter for your body
Are you ready to give your body the medicine it needs?
Scientists have invested many hours exploring the positive side effects of laughter on our physical health.
Laughing is an ideal way to help improve your overall health. Some of the physical impacts of laughing are:
- Improving your heart health. A Japanese study found laughter helps to lower the risk of heart disease.
- Lowering blood pressure. When you laugh, your blood vessels relax (the opposite of the restriction stress causes on them). Relaxed blood vessels cause blood pressure to decrease by allowing the blood to flow more freely through your body.
- Improving weight loss by burning calories and it may even lower your blood sugar levels.
- Boosting your immune system. Stress puts a lot of strain on our bodies (and we’re all suffering from stress these days). Laughing helps to combat the impacts of stress and improves our body’s ability to fight off illness.
- Helping you cope with pain. When you laugh, your body releases endorphins which reduces our perception of pain. (Endorphins have also been shown to lower depression, improve self-esteem and improve weight loss.)
- Improving muscle tone. Laughing activates your internal obliques, transverse abdominis and diaphragm, giving your abs an excellent workout. One study found that muscle activation during Laughter Yoga was higher than during traditional ab exercises.
- Enhances lung health. When we’re laughing, we take deeper breaths, making our lungs work harder. This results in a higher consumption of oxygen which leads to a healthier respiratory system.
Thanks to its heart-boosting, ab-working qualities – laughter is a fantastic cardio workout too.
Laughter for your mind
- Disrupts your thoughts – in a good way! Get unstuck – when you’re caught up worrying about a project or juggling priorities, laughing is the ideal way to pause the brain train and be present in the moment.
- Boosts your mood. Along with aiding in the reduction of anxiety, laughing simply makes us feel good. It’s the ideal way to shake off worry, frustration or anger.
- Reduces cortisol. The hormone cortisol plays a large role in your stress levels. When we’re stressed, cortisone is high so a deep belly laugh is a great way to bring the pressure down.
- Strengthens relationships. Laughing together makes us feel closer to each other because it indicates we’re experiencing the same world. It sets off ‘mirror’ neurons and helps us see similarities between ourselves and others.
- Improves memory. Higher cortisol levels affect our short-term memory. Think about those moments when you’re highly stressed and can’t remember where you put your keys. Lower levels of cortisol created by laughter help to boost your short-term memory.
Remember how endorphins help you deal with pain? This happiness hormone is a survival response – it drives us away from activities that feel bad, and towards activities that nourish us.
Along with guiding us towards a more fulfilling life, an endorphin boost also improves your self-esteem too. Making laughter the ideal way to grow more confident and feel good at work.
Social benefits of laughter
Along with aiding the health of our minds and bodies, laughter builds our social connections.
Social connections are one of our basic human needs. They help us feel supported in life and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. A strong social connection also gives us a sense of purpose and helps us feel secure.
Another benefit of positive relationships and a supportive social network is to assist in avoiding anxiety and depression. With one out of seven Australians experiencing depression, it’s vital to actively look after your mental health.
Cope better with life’s challenges
When life gets tough, there’s nothing funny about it. But actively laughing is an effective way to not only help you cope with difficult situations but to improve your quality of life too.
Plus the improved social connections we talked about previously play a large role in getting us through those rough times. Laughing with friends, family and colleagues brings light-heartedness to a heavy situation while also improving trust. You’ll feel less burdened and more supported.
Finding the humour in these moments isn’t easy. Which is why Laughter Yoga is so useful. You can choose to “act out” laughing even when you feel life is against you.
Surely spontaneous laughter (aka genuine laughter) is better than prescribed laughter?
Actually, no, they have the same level of happy results.
It doesn’t matter if you’re chortling about your cat’s strange sneeze or practising Laughter Yoga – any form of laughing has a wide range of physiological benefits.
Choosing to laugh in a crowded elevator, sitting in traffic or while waiting for your morning coffee is good for you and everyone around you. Laughter is a simple yet powerful way to bring more joy to the world.