Healing power of laughter
When was the last time you had a good laugh? If it's so long ago that you can't remember, there's every chance it's not just your sense of humour that's not as healthy as it could be.
A new study from Deakin University shows your mental health could also be suffering.
Deakin researchers examined the psychological impact of laughter yoga on more than 400 corporate workers and found significant improvements in wellbeing in just one month.
Their mood, self-esteem, optimism, sense of control and workplace wellbeing all increased by up to 10 per cent, while stress, anxiety and depression all went down by up to 10 per cent.
‘‘The major finding was you’re going to feel better about yourself and you’re going to work better,’’ says Laughter Yoga Australia chief executive Merv Neal, who ran the laughter classes for the study.
‘‘And at the same time your stress levels, anxiety levels and depression levels are going to decrease.
‘‘It worked in tandem, which was really wonderful.’’
It is the latest research to show the health benefits of laughter.
Laughter has previously been found to relieve pain, increase happiness, boost immunity and lower the risk of some diseases, combat tension, and strengthen relationships when it is shared.
Researchers at the University of Southern California are also investigating whether laughter yoga can help ease chronic migraine and headaches.
‘‘Laughter is directly related to our health,’’ says Laughter Works Australia founder Bronwen Williams, who runs laughter workshops for workplaces.
‘‘It’s the body’s natural way of getting rid of stress and anxiety. So if we don’t laugh enough it does affect our immune system and we’re more open to illness.
‘‘It also has a symptom-relieving effect. It’s very powerful and it’s fun.’’
Laughter yoga was founded in India by Dr Madan Kataria in 1995.
Today, it is used therapeutically in schools, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, community groups and businesses.
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