When it comes to self-help, there are a plethora of treatments to choose. Acupuncture, reflexology, reiki, massage, crystals, meditation, art therapy, homeopathic remedies - the list is endless.
Some of these therapies will cost you money, and others can be done with little or no cash. Meditating, for example, is free, and one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Another activity that will cost you nothing but boost your wellbeing is laughter.
I am fortunate to be a half-full personality type and together with my positive attitude I also have a tendency to see the funny side of life. Think about Peter Kaye for a moment, he uses everyday activities and stresses to build up his act, with hilarious results. Sarah Millican uses her own weight issues to reduce her audience into fits of giggles. Learning to laugh at yourself can help you to view life with less negativity and emotion.
With wedding season in full swing, the summer months are an ideal time to catch up with friends and family that you may not see regularly. I attended my friend’s wedding the other day and spent the majority of the day with tears in my eyes. Not because it was an emotional event, or because I was wallowing in, ‘I’m going to be single forever’ – far from it! I spent the day laughing. Reminiscing the good ole days, telling stories and making fun of ourselves as our ridiculous heels began to produce blisters, and our spanks became unbearable.
If someone gets the giggles, I inevitably start laughing too, it’s infectious – a bit like yawning.
There is, of course, plenty of scientific facts associated with the beneficial properties of laughter:
- It increases the activity of your white blood cells and T-cells, which fight infection.
- It stimulates endorphins, which make you feel good and help control pain.
- It also stimulates catecholamine, which helps to keep you alert and stimulate your memory.
- Laughing cleanses your lungs.
- It exercises muscles in your face, abdomen, shoulders and neck, as well as your heart.
- Laughing activates the right brain (we use our left brain for logic).
Not only does laughter help our body, it is hugely valuable for our wellbeing and emotions. When I sit around the dinner table with my children, we chat about their day at school and college. If one of them has had a tough day I help them to feel better by telling a bad joke, or turning the situation into a funny story – they can’t stay in a bad mood once they start laughing.
There are so many ways to introduce laughter into your life, try one of these:
- Watch a funny movie - two of my favourite feel-good films, guaranteed to make me laugh, are The Millers and The Sweetest Thing.
- Arrange a Girl’s Night – it doesn’t have to be a boozy do; catch up over coffee can be just as effective. In fact, just half an hour spent with friends can help.
Did You Know – Women Laugh More Than Men!
- Play Pictionary – or choose another game, time spent with family playing a fun board game is guaranteed to bring about the laughter.
- Story Time – re-telling funny stories triggers an inbuilt need to laugh over and over. My mum can reduce my kids to tears by re-telling a joke. It’s not a particularly funny joke, but when my mum tells it she can’t stop herself from giggling – this in turn starts my kids off. ‘How do you stop a dog going up Blackpool Tower? Take it to Scarborough!’
There are so many ways to bring the fun into your life. Try this exercise when you are out and about. Listen to conversations that are going on around you, notice people's quirks. Join in with spontaneous social interaction. It is a fact that over 70% of laughter is triggered naturally between people.
How do you find the laughter in your life? Feel free to share a joke or two with us.