LouiseCarolanishavinga laugh- inthenameofhealth
LAUGHTER is the best medicine, so the old saying goes.
And local woman Louise Carolan certainly thinks so and has made a career out of helping people improve their physical and mental health through laughter.
Louise, from Five Oaks, is a laughter yoga teacher and has taught classes to groups as diverse as primary school children to 600 Ikea employees, helping them relieve stress, lower blood pressure and improve their oxegen intake - all through simply having a hearty giggle.
‘It has been proven that ten minutes of hearty laughter will reduce your stress factors by 70% and one session of laughter yoga will give two hours of pain relief so the health benefits are huge,’ explained Louise.
The Mum of two will also be speaking at the upcoming Living With Cancer conference explaining how beneficial the practice can be for those going through chemotherapy and cancer treatment.
‘Lots of the big cancer hospitals around the world are starting to incorporate laughter yoga into their treatment plan,’ said Louise. ‘It’s a very stressful time when you get a cancer diagnosis and everything that comes with it and it has been shown that stress can have a negative affect on chemotherapy treatment.
‘People who have a diagnosis like this, they don’t have much to laugh at so introducing the fake laughter is a great way to help them to laugh even when they don’t have anything to laugh at. Studies have shown that fake laughter has the same positive benefits as real laughter and after treatment people might want to live a little differently and not be so burdened by stress so it’s a great way to bring that into your life.’
Louise worked in insurance for many years but left her high stress job after having her second daughter and subsequently suffering post natal depression and anxiety.
‘I did a mindfulness course and I began to realise that you could help yourself out of it without using medication, which I hated,’ said Louise.
She first experienced laughter yoga during a mindfulness course five years ago but thought no more of it until she came across a video of laughter yoga online a couple of years later and something just clicked.
‘I thought, I remember that, I’ll give it a try so I did classes in Dublin and I really found it so beneficial for stress busting.
I began to realise that you could help yourself out of it without using medittation which I hated. I saw a video of laguhter yoga online and thought it was great. I did a little taster of it five years ago at a wellness workshop. I enjoyed it kind of wacky but forgot all about it.
Then I did the classes in Dublin, about two a half years ago. I thought I remember that I’ll give it a try. I really found it so beneficial for stress busting.
The day after my first class was when I noticed the real benefits because I was laughing at things I wouldn’t have found funny before, it kind of teaches you to not be so serious and look for the humour in things.’
Louise was so impressed by the benefits she experienced, she decided to train as a laughter yoga instructor.
‘It’s so simple yet extremely effective, anyone and everyone can do it. So I did that training and I also did a health and wellbeing course and a personal and professional life coaching course, just to give a well rounded approach to the classes I teach.’
After a few practice sessions with the group in Dublin Louise started teaching groups and individuals in Drogheda and Navan and has never looked back.
‘Some people had never heard about it and were intrigued but others knew all about it. Francis Brennan was doing a programme at the time travelling around and he had done a bit on it so they’d seen it there and were dying to give it a go. I did sessions with teachers and then they asked me to come to the schools and do it with the kids. I’ve taught in businesses, nursing homes, women’s groups. I love going to work everyday. It’s so diverse, from children who are full of energy they’d be running around doing their laughter exercises, to people in wheelchairs who use it as a natural pain reliever.
For more information see Louise’s website www.stepstowellness.ie