The Health Benefits of Laughter And Humour

The Health Benefits of Laughter And Humour

Relationships and Lifeskills Laughter

Laughter and a sense of humour can get you through the most challenging of times. As well as being our birthright, it’s a natural part of life that is innate. Observe a baby and you will see them begin smiling during the first few weeks of life and laugh within months of being born.
Practising emotional sharing builds strong and lasting relationships and laughter is one of the most effective ways of keeping relationships fresh and exciting. This works in our love relationships as well as in our connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

By sharing laughter and humour it allows us to:

  • Express our true/inner feelings
  • Reduce inhibitions
  • Avoid defensiveness
  • Be more spontaneous

The human race has one really effective weapon and that is laughter – Mark Twain

Did you know that humour and laughter can help tackle age-related memory loss by reducing brain damage caused by the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol and boost memory? According to Michael Miller, Director of the Centre for Preventative Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore, “A good belly laugh leads to the release of endorphins from the brain.”

A study in Japan found that laughter could improve anti-inflammatory factors in the blood of people who have rheumatoid arthritis. Another study published in 2003 showed that those who laughed (at a humorous movie) had higher levels of natural killer cell activity which increased the participants ability to fight off disease. However, the effect was only seen in the subjects who laughed out loud, not in those who quietly watched the comedy.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. – Victor Borge

By setting aside special times to seek out humour and laughter you will begin to incorporate both into the fabric of your life, finding it naturally in everything you do.

Some ways to start:

  • Smile – Smiling is the beginning of laughter.
  • When you hear laughter be drawn to it.
  • Spend time with playful, fun people. There are people who laugh easily – both at themselves and at life’s absurdities, and who routinely find humour in everyday events.
  • Bring humour into your conversations. Everyone has a moment in the day/week or their life where something funny has happened. Share those moments.
  • Count your blessings. Consider the good things in your life and remember the good rather than fixating on the sad/bad.

As humour and laughter become a part of your life, your creativity will bloom and new discoveries will await you. Humour will take you to a higher place where you can view the world from a more relaxed, positive, joyful, creative and balanced perspective.

The link between laughter and mental health:

  • Laughter helps you relax and recharge by reducing stress, increasing energy, keeping you focused and accomplishing more.
  • Laughter dissolves distressing emotions – when laughing you can’t feel anxious, angry or sad.
  • Humour changes your perspective allowing you to see situations in a more realistic, less threatening light. By creating psychological distance (through humour) your reduce the chances of feeling overwhelmed.
  • Humour and laughter in our communication with others strengthens our relationships, triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection.

A laugh is..
A smile that bursts
An instant vacation
A day not wasted
Music to the soul
A cheap medicine
The more you laugh,
the more you live

Ways to assist you see the lighter side of life:

  • Surround yourself with reminders to help you see the light side. Place a funny toy on your desk or in your car. Hang a funny poster in your office. Frame pictures of you and the family having fun. Choose a computer screen saver that makes you laugh. Carry a photo in your wallet/handbag of your loved ones laughing.
  • Learn to laugh at yourself. This will help you to not take yourself too seriously.
  • Keep things in perspective. There are many things in life that are beyond our control, particularly how others behave.
  • Manage stress. Stress is a major obstacle to humour and laughter.
  • Observe children and emulate them. Find the child within. Children are experts at taking life lightly, enjoying laughter and ensuring there is always time to play.
  • Attempt to find the positive/humorous facets in situations. Look for the lighter side of a negative situation, and uncover the irony and absurdity of life. This will enhance your mood and the mood of those around you.

At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. – Jean Houston

Creating Work/Life Balance For Good Health

Creating Work/Life Balance For Good Health

worklife balanceAccording to research, Australians work the longest hours in the Western world and around one quarter report that work frequently interferes with other life activities.  Many of us are time poor and constantly rushing to juggle different commitments.

Work is generally good for mental and physical wellbeing.  However, when productive stress becomes overwhelming stress, it can lead to health complications and burnout.

What are the benefits of work?

  • Daily structure and activity
  • Provides a sense of purpose and meaning
  • Instills a sense of community
  • Establishment and maintenance of relationships
  • Financial independence

Having a strong work ethic is a good thing, however when work becomes all consuming then it’s time to reassess one’s priorities in life.

Taking time to live life will only inspire your work

What are the key features of burnout?

  • Feelings of detachment from work and/or becoming cynical
  • Reduced efficiency, lack of a sense of achievement and a general feeling of dissatisfaction
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

Who is most affected?

According to The Australian Work and Life Index (AWALI) certain groups within society are more affected by the work/life interference:

  • Parents, particularly mothers (and especially single mothers)
  • Carers who are looking after sick, disabled or elderly family/relatives
  • Professionals, managers and those in the mining industry
  • Women generally have worse work/life outcomes because of the multi-tasking requirements of caring and domestic work
  • People working from home where the requirements of work/housework have a negative impact on the work/life interface.
  • Women caring for children as well as elderly or sick family members. This type of family dynamic is often referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’

Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life

Tips to achieving work/life balance:

  1. Prioritise – think about what’s important in your life and plan accordingly. Ask yourself what is the one or first thing in your life that you would like to focus on right now?  Second? Third?
  2. Concentrate on doing one thing at a time and doing it well rather than trying to multi-task and doing little justice to any matter in your work/life
  3. Time management – use apps, to-do-lists, cut down on time wastage. Delegate where possible
  4. Set boundaries – set limits on work time, learn to say no, and factor in time for your favourite social/recreational activities every day if possible
  5. Create a balance – choose breadth and variety over perfectionism. Strive to be better rather than perfect
  6. Consider your finances. Meet your basic needs rather than living up to others/social expectations
  7. Relationships need time and nurturing. Priorities time with your family and loved ones
  8. Health – regular exercise has proven benefits in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Factor this in at least 2-3 times per week, although small changes could be implemented on a daily basis.
  9. Down time – rest periods recharge our batteries. Schedule time each week for that import ‘me time’
  10. Look at your personal habits/lifestyle. Consider nutrition, exercise and sleep
  11. Take a holiday. It is important to take 2-3 weeks off per year. Turn off the mobile, the computer, and enjoy your holiday.
  12. Be prepared to ask for support. Tell friends, family, colleagues and your boss that you are seeking a better work/life balance. It is important they respect and understand your plan and direction in life
  13. Hire a personal coach if possible. A personal coach can help you assess, implement and focus on achieving a work/life balance.
  14. Seek out a mentor. Find someone that you admire for their successful career and positive personal life. Ask for their guidance on career development, time management and setting priorities.  Discover what works for them in maintaining a terrific personal life?
  15. On a regular basis (say, monthly) evaluate and reflect on your direction in creating/maintaining a good work/life balance. “Life is a journey not a sprint.”
  16. Enjoy your work and life. Remember, “Do what you love, love what you do.”

Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.