A while ago, I promised a post with more on stress and laughter.
Here it is.
Let me start with a story.
I watched a Documentary recently called Laughology, in which it talks about a Laughter Epidemic that happened in Tanzania in the late 60s.
It started in the schools, kids would start laughing (or alternating between laughing and crying) in the middle of class and not stop … for days, even weeks!
From the schools it spread to villages and towns and throughout the country, even to some neighboring countries.
When Doctors looked into it they could find nothing medically wrong with these people.
What was uncovered eventually was quite interesting. First, this had been a particularly bad year for weather which adversely affected many of the poorer members of society who relied on farming. Second, a new stricter regime had entered the school systems, focusing on discipline and order.
So these kids would go to school, where they had to be perfect in all things (very un-kid-like) then they would go home and work hard or merely commiserate with their families, trying to eek out a living.
Until they cracked.
They were so stressed, they started laughing, and couldn’t stop.
Why, you ask?
Laughter and stress and very closely related. Not related as in similar, but related as in, both parts of the same spectrum – mental health.
Did you know that laughing is actually a biological function, something your mind and body need and is the anti-thesis of stress?
We NEED to laugh, but unfortunately our society, over several hundred years, has villainized and marginalized laughter to the point that we think it childish and frivolous.
In the 1800s, laughter was considered vulgar, almost evil (they actually created the evil villain laugh that we now see as a cliche in movies – because only those who were not “in control” of themselves laughed)
Today, you’ll catch parents, teachers, adults of all sorts hushing and quieting kids as they laugh and play (usually in public) slowly teaching the next generation that laughing is not acceptable public behaviour.
Just thinking about this gets me so worked up, because we are teaching our kids that you have to be serious and not laugh, which is cutting them off from a NEEDED BIOLOGICAL FUNCTION which combats stress and anxiety.
If someone were to catch me in one of my many bouts of laughing alone for no reason, they would probably make a wide berth around me and think me a little off my rocker, when all I’m doing is allowing my body the tool it needs to de-stress itself.
Of the three modes of catharsis (emotional release): laughing, crying, and anger release, laughter is the least destructive and the most healing.
I truly believe in the power of laughter to combat stress, heal the body and mind, and make us more productive and successful in life.
So how do you get rid of stress in one easy step?
Laugh, right now, for no reason. If there is nothing funny, just fake it. If you make the sounds of laughing long enough, you will actually start laughing for real.
So until the next time, keep laughing and laughing some more, and laughing and laughing and laughing …