Laugh­ter helps beat stress

Tweed Daily News - - LIFE - Laura Nel­son

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.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

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.

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