Laughter Therapy: Benefits Of Laughter, Exercises And Workshops

This article will explain what laughter therapy is and the health benefits of laughter.
Laughter therapy uses the benefits of laughter to relieve stress, among other health problems.

 

 

In the last few years, laughter therapy has experienced a boom in its number of followers and people who practice it. There are many benefits of laughter and it is very important to learn how to stimulate and assimilate it if you want to use it to cope with certain illnesses and adopt a positive attitude in your life.

Laughter therapy is widely used as an adjunct therapy for certain diseases and it has been the subject of numerous psychological studies. Just so you can get an idea of the potential usefulness of this type of psychological therapy, it has been shown that laughing for a minute is equal to 45 minutes of relaxation.

Definition and types of laughing

Laughter can be defined as an expression of joy and happiness in response to certain stimuli. It is an emotional discharge caused by a psycho-physiological reaction. It consists of rhythmical contractions made by the diaphragm accompanied by repetitive syllabic vocalizations and a facial expression defined by 50 facial muscles. Sometimes lachrymal secretion also occurs.

Moreover, laughter activates about 400 different muscles of the body, which are located in the head, neck, back, shoulders, abdomen, etc. All these body movements are accompanied by neurophysiological processes, such as cardiovascular and respiratory changes. Laughter releases endorphins, which causes a feeling of pleasure that can be compared to that produced during sexual intercourse and other reactions of the organism. 

There are different types of laughter depending on how loud they are. These types can vary in duration, characteristics and tone. Some of them are:

  • Chuckle 

  • Guffaw

  • Giggle

  • Belly laugh 

  • Snort

  • Convulse laughter

  • Nervous laughter

  • Titter

The smile is the most contagious emotional expression showed when people laugh. It has been shown that people attract positive feelings when they smile. Both laughter and smile are innate expressions and appear about a month and a half of being born.

The smile is considered the first sign of communicative behaviour of human beings. During the first years of life, this is a physical behaviour, but it eventually becomes an emotional one.

What is laughter therapy?

The concept of laughter therapy refers to the psychotherapeutic technique that provides mental and emotional benefits through laughter, that is, humour therapy. This type of humour consists in a technique that boosts health and well-being through the stimulation of laughter.

This therapy is carried out in courses and workshops where the stimulation of laughter is practiced in group. It takes advantage of the fact that laughter is contagious. In this way, the group effect is intended to encourage those people who normally find it difficult to laugh and express their laughter.

The goal of laughter therapy is to improve one’s psychological and physical condition through the benefits that laughter provides to the organism. When people laugh, their mood, mental state and stress level improve. It cannot be considered a medical therapy, because it does not cure diseases, but it has been shown that it improves the personal health of those suffering from different diseases.

Nowadays, it is recommended to be used as a complementary treatment for curative therapies, as it improves their effectiveness. In many countries, there are laughter therapy centres that help people deal with illnesses or even ease their symptoms.

These centres have demonstrated the different benefits of laugher, such as making your heart stronger, dilating blood vessels, improving breathing and digestion, releasing endorphins and strengthening emotional ties.

Laughter is the best medicine. Find out more about the benefits of laughter.

 

Benefits of laughter 

It has been shown that laughter therapy offers great benefits for people and their bodies. Next, we are going to explain the benefits of laughter provided by this type of therapy, as well as other activities that make you laugh and have fun.

1. Strengthens your immune system

Laughter produces endorphins, also known as “feel good” hormones. When the level of endorphins in your body increases, the immune system is strengthened, providing a better protection against certain diseases.

2. Improves blood circulation

One of the main benefits of laughter is that it improves blood circulation, which strengthens your cardiovascular system. This reduces the chances of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

3. Regulates your intestinal transit

Laughter therapy helps your body work more comfortably and relaxed; therefore, it improves your intestinal transit. It can help protect you against gastrointestinal disorders.

4. Prevents insomnia

Laughter helps you fall asleep easier, rest better and avoid insomnia. In this way, you will get a better quality of life.

5. Helps burn calories

When you laugh, about 400 muscles of your body become active. It has been shown that laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise.

6. Relieves stress

This is one of the best benefits provided by laughter therapy, since it helps you get rid of the stress caused by daily routines and teaches you how to turn the negative aspects into positive ones.

7. Improves your mood

Laughter clearly elevates your spirit. After a session of laughter therapy, participants experience great happiness.

8. Helps you think positively

Another benefit of laughter is that it helps you deal with your everyday experiences in a more positive way, which can be useful when you have to cope with difficult situations.

Laughter is essencial to your social and emotional life.

Types of laughter therapy sessions

There are different types of sessions where laughter therapy is used. Next, you will find some of them.

Regular laughter therapy

This type of laughter therapy course involves a psychologist and a group of people, in which the psychologist tries to make these people laugh together. Some of the methods used are those in which participants tell funny stories and play games to stimulate laughter.

This is one of the most widespread methods and it is highly used to treat stress, help the victims of gender-based violence and ease the symptoms of some diseases. The people who attend a regular laughter therapy course experience positive feelings and an increased immunity.

Clown doctor

Nowadays, this is one of the most used types of laughter therapy. It consists in medical staff or humour professionals performing dressed as clowns or wearing funny and colourful accessories to cheer up and make the children laugh. 

It is widely used with hospitalised children and also by UNICEF to cheer up children who have survived a natural disaster or are sent to refugee camps.

Laughter yoga

This is a technique used to teach people how to laugh in a correct, natural and usual way. By means of breathing control and several stretches and yoga exercises, laugher is stimulated and people learn to laugh willingly.

 

 

Laughter therapy workshops and courses

The main purpose of laughter therapy workshops is to make the participants laugh and promote good humour. In order to do so, there are several techniques and dynamics used to change the participants’ perspective on their everyday problems. Besides, this type of laughter therapy courses encourages communication and physical contact, as well as improves your way of thinking and positivity.

Next, we will explain what a laughter therapy workshop is and its main techniques.

Theoretical introduction

The laughter therapy session starts with a theoretical introduction explaining the health benefits of laughter and its main characteristics.

Warming up

It is important that your mind is completely relaxed in order to laugh. For this reason, during the warming up session, a series of simple exercises are carried out to break down inhibition and so, be able to achieve the goals suggested for the entire laughter therapy session.

The purpose of the warming up session is to create funny situations, so that the participants start laughing little by little and so, they feel less embarrassed and more comfortable within the group. It is also important that the exercises require some effort, so that the participants get their bodies oxygenated.

Dynamics and games

This is the most important part of the laughter therapy workshop. A set of dynamics and games are carried out so that the participants feel cheerful and happy; so, they can laugh openly. Some of the games played during this session are:

  • Make faces: the participants form a circle and they have to make the person next to them the funniest face they can imagine. The funny faces are showed one by one until the circle is complete.

  • Tap tap: in this game, participants have to walk around while they tap the shoulder of their playmate and laugh constantly. You have to switch the person you tap on the shoulder, but you cannot stop tapping someone’s shoulder.

  • Mirror: this activity is carried out in pairs. First, participants place themselves one in front of the other, then one of them has to make faces and the other imitate them.

  • Balloon: participants have to inflate a balloon. With each blow they have to think of something they want to leave behind. Then, they tie the balloon to their shoes and, while dancing, they have to blow it up before the song ends.

  • Tickling: another game carried out during the laughter therapy sessions is to tickle somebody from the group, since tickling generates a reaction in the brain that makes you laugh.

Laughter gym

At this point, participants are made to laugh as much as possible, which makes them feel happy and relaxed.

Relaxation

During this stage, the intensity is reduced and laughter is assimilated so that it can be set up within yourself. During this process, participants feel renewed and happy, ready to face life in a positive manner. 

Check out the original article: ¿Qué es la risoterapia? Beneficios de la risa, cursos y talleres at viviendolasalud.com

 

References:

Carmona, M. P., & González, L. M. (2015). La risoterapia como complemento a otras terapias médicas. RevistaEnfermeríaCyL, 7(1), 73-79.

Christian, R., Ramos, J., Susanibar, C., & Balarezo, G. (2004). Risoterapia: Un nuevo campo para los profesionales de la salud. Rev. Soc. Per. Med. Inter, 17(2), 57.

Ruiz Gómez, M. C., Rojo Pascual, C., Ferrer Pascual, M., Jiménez Navascués, L., & Ballesteros García, M. (2005). Terapias complementarias en los cuidados: Humor y risoterapia. Index de Enfermería, 14(48-49), 37-41.

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