There are several centers in the United States that are now focusing on Laughter Therapy. Many hospitals have clowns and animators on their payrolls, since they bring happiness and joy to the ill. Laughter Therapy has also become popular in Spain (where there are groups of clowns dedicated to visiting hospitals), as well as in South America. Even some laboratories sponsor Laughter Therapy talks for their patients.
Many companies and schools successfully hold Laugher Therapy workshops. On days dedicated to health, sports and family, there are Laughter Therapy talks which more than 2,000 people attend. Why has this become so popular? Simply because laughter prolongs life. Laughing makes our mood change, which has an impact on our body, helping to alleviate and prevent diseases. The benefits of this therapy are well-confirmed.
For example, HIV and cancer patients will respond better to treatment if they’re in a good mood. In fact, several hospitals in France, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and the United States treat these patients with Laughter Therapy sessions designed just for them.
Specialists have proven that laughter is a stupendous medicine that renews the energy of the ill and gives them a higher chance of getting better. However, this therapy isn’t just for curing, there are many other benefits to it.
Laughter and good humor are, in fact, a way of seeing and living life from a joyful perspective. A happier way to face and resolve everything that happens to us.
Laughter Therapy – what is it?
This refers to an alternative therapy based on a completely natural action: laughing. Basically, Laughter Therapy is: “a psychotherapeutic strategy or technique aimed at producing mental and emotional benefits through laughter”.
You can also define it as: “an alternative therapy that sees laughter as the main inhibitor against stress/other conditions”. Laughter Therapy unfolds in groups and, through the use of various techniques, makes us physically and emotionally disposed to laugh.
It involves practicing various techniques in order to feel the fun and return to childhood to achieve the best laugh. However, what’s the best laugh? The best laugh is the healthiest, the one that delivers an intense and pure laughter.
This therapy is put into practice through techniques that generate positive states, both individually and in groups. Said techniques influence our wellbeing, motivation, efficiency, and therefore, our quality of life.
It isn’t considered as a therapy per se, rather as a complimentary technique. It doesn’t cure any disease by itself, but it does have positive effects on the body. In addition, the more people practice this therapy, the more evident the results will be.
The effects of laughter on a psychological level
Laughter Therapy improves blood pressure and the segregation of the so-called happiness hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, endorphins. When you lack these hormones, you might feel sad, hopeless, melancholic and dull.
These are the main benefits of Laughter Therapy (on a psychological level!):
- Helps coping with anxiety through relaxation and breathing.
- Reduces stress due to the segregation of happiness hormones.
- It can relieve depression, since it helps to give people a more positive outlook on life.
- Improves people’s self-steem.
- Helps to cope with dementia, attenuating its symptoms.
As you can see, Laughter Therapy can help you better your mental health, but there’s still more to it.
Laughing can strengthen your immune system
The amount of defenses in your body has to do with the level of endorphins. When you’re in a good mood, you have an adequate amount of them. What are they good for? When you have a good amount of endorphins in your system, you’re better protected from illnesses and viruses. On the contrary, your level of endorphins and defenses will decrease when suffering from depression or severe stress, meaning you’ll be at more risk of contracting an illness.
Endorphins are opioid neurotransmitters. Their effect is similar to opium’s, the drug obtained from poppies, also related to morphine and heroine.
We generate these opioid neurotransmitters when we practice sex, work out, eat chocolate or spicy food. The discovery of endorphins occurred in the 70’s, when scientists were studying the mechanism by which some drugs acted. They found that these substances acted on specific receptors located in the brain and in the spinal cord, attenuating the sensation of pain.
The researchers wondered why such receptors existed, which led them to discover that the body generated narcotics naturally (endorphins). The activity of endorphins is associated to the limbic system, to which the hypothalamus belongs and that contains the specific receptors with which they interact.
The immune system serves to fight all kinds of infections, from a regular cold to venereal diseases such as AIDS. It is in charge of monitoring and eliminating the potentially carcinogenic cells we have in our bodies. However, if the system fails, those cells will react by making the disease appear. That’s why it’s important to have a suitable level of endorphins in the body.
7 benefits of the Laughter Therapy
Laughter Therapy sessions tend to be in groups. Through the use of different techniques, it makes us physically and emotionally disposed to laugh. Let’s see the benefits of this therapy:
- During this therapy, you’re usually in constant movement; so it’s safe to say you exercise during it. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be in the best physical condition ever to do good.
- It’s a very healthy activity. It helps us have a stronger heart, more oxygenated skin, better defenses, a toxin-free body, a clearer mind and it can also help you fall asleep easier.
- You forget about your worries. Some sessions start with a symbolic act in which everyone throw their problems to an imaginary fire. After a good laughing session, you look at your worries more positively.
- It helps you let loose. The goal of these workshops is to help people let go of their shame. No one will judge you by what you say or do.
- Another great benefit of this therapy is that it allows you to meet new people and make new friends. Your chances of leaving with new friends are high due to the relaxed, non-judgemental environment.
- It makes you energetic. Laughter promotes emotional wellbeing and relaxation, so it helps you rest. By the time you wake up, you’ll feel renewed and full of energy!
- It’ll be hard for you to remember the last time you had that much fun and laughed that hard. Rewarding activities will improve your mood significantly.
As you can see, the Laughter Therapy has great benefits; the only thing that’s left is for you to participate in a workshop and enjoy them yourself!