Last week we had a truly hilarious laughter workshop with Jani Burdett. For almost 40 minutes (37, to be exact) she had a group of people bellowing, roaring and cackling with laughter. It’s an extraordinary therapy which leaves you feeling happy and energized – and has a solid body of research behind it to support the power of its positive effects.
Funnily enough, the laughter doesn’t have to be genuine. Jani started off with some warm-up exercises, opening the mouth wide and saying “Oranges” (go on, try it!); pursing the lips and saying “prunes”. And then she worked up waves of laughter, telling everyone to start off by just faking it. Soon enough, people relaxed and started to laugh at the sheer silliness and joy of the situation. The noise would peak, fall off, go quiet; there were grunts and sighs as everyone drew breath and wiped eyes, then a fresh wave would burst out and the laughter reach a crescendo once again
Laughter is a great stressbuster. When we laugh endorphins – happy hormones – go UP and the stress hormone cortisol comes down, leaving us feeling happier and more relaxed . It’s good for us in so many ways, reminding us of the joy of life and bringing a host of positives in its wake: stimulation of the circulation and respiratory system (and brings a sparkle to the eye which you can’t buy at a health spa!); a boost to the immune system; promotion of a healthy heart; toning the muscles and internal organs; reducing blood pressure There is now a new breed of Clown Doctors who realise that humour is healing and use laughter as a tool for pain management. After laughter, cortisol and adrenaline levels come down and make us more relaxed, reducing depression and heightening the sense of well being and creativity.