Laughter helps beat stress
LIGHTEN up and laugh more - it’s really, really good for your mental health.
That’s the view of neuroscientists and behavioural experts as rates of anxiety and depression continue to climb in Australia.
Happiness coach Meredith Yardley (pictured) agrees and has been sharing her insight at a gathering of the new Gold Coast Business Laughter Club.
With 40 years’ experience in business and a string of degrees behind her, she is passionate about lightening the loads of stressed business people.
“I call myself a corporate refugee and I know it can be very lonely in business,” she said.
“It’s a super-stressful environment and I believe laughter is the best stress buster on the planet,” Ms Yardley said.
“The incidence of mental health in Australia and around the world is increasing and I want to help raise the levels of happiness for people to combat this.”
The engaging coach has a Master of Arts, Communication Management, (University of Technology, Sydney), a Graduate Diploma in Social Ecology (University of Western Sydney) and a Certificate in The Science of Happiness from the University of California.
Ms Yardley is also a certified hypnotherapist in the Krasner Method and a Laughter Yoga Leader and trainer in the Dr Kataria Method (Mumbai, India).
Ms Yardley clearly knows her stuff about laughter.
“It’s a really, really good start to improving mental health,” she said.
“I like to think of laughter as science and magic colliding at speed to create something amazing.
“When we laugh, our mood is enhanced, we connect with others and we breathe deeply, so it’s a great boost of oxygen for the body and brain. We’re living in the present so it’s a mindful activity and it’s aerobic because it elevates our heart rate.”
Ms Yardley pointed out that as we get older, we play and laugh less. So, how do we laugh more to improve our mental health?
“We can be mindful about laughing more during our day, watch more light, comedy channels on TV or listen to podcasts that make us laugh,” she said.
“We can also get together with friends to do something fun, go to comedy nights or attend intentional laughter sessions.”
Ms Yardley runs these unusual sessions where participants laugh for an hour, which sounds pretty difficult.
“Laughter can be very subjective but with intentional laughter, we give the brain a break and it becomes a body exercise,” she said.
“The first step is to do a laughter exercise, for example we shake someone’s hand and instead of saying hello, we laugh.
“The second step is to do a clap and a chant – we clap our hands and say ‘ho ho ho’.
“Then we do a deep breath technique and use our imagination to laugh.”
Ms Yardley teaches each person to get in touch with the six-year-old child inside who used to jump in puddles, run and laugh for the sheer joy of it.
“It’s totally doable. It doesn’t matter if you start off by faking it.” she said.
“Eventually, you laugh for real – the sheer fun of it takes you away.”
Visit meredithyardley.com for more details about a 21-day laughter challenge.
BELLY OF LAUGHS: Gold Coast Business Laughter Club co-hosts Aldwyn Altuney, Michael Bennett, Donna-leigh Perfect and Tracey Korman are encouraging business people to enjoy a laugh as a way of combating stress.