Laughing your way to self-management

This week, we continue the series on self-management.  Did you know that self-talk has an impact on someone’s ability to manage himself/herself?  Learn more about this in my video.

Smiling and laughing can actually be beneficial for self-management. I am delighted to have a guest blogger who is extremely knowledgeable of the subject. Below is a post by Helen Marie Szollosy of LAFOLOT.

How is laughing good for you? Can it be used as form of self-healing?

Laughter Wellness is endorsed by the American Heart, Arthritis, Diabetes and Cancer Associations.  I was trained by a psychologist (Steve Wilson) whose use of laughter wellness is geared towards ‘healthy socialization’.  He, in turn, teamed with a cardiologist (Madan Kataria) who saw that people that laughed more, healed faster!  So, yes – it can be directly related to healing mental, physical, emotional challenges!  Why? Studies have found that laughing hardily for 20 minutes: opens the blood vessels 20 percent more, increases disease fighting anti-bodies in the blood stream and in saliva (thus helping to ward off respiratory ailments, improve circulation and create a healthy flow of blood in the body!).  It has also been found to reduce blood pressure, aid in digestion, increase serotonin levels (boosting the mood to help fight depression), and open the left and right brain hemispheres for improved communication.  I have been told by persons taking advantage of mental health groups, dealing with depression, when they once again found LAUGHTER, they knew they were going to be okay!  I also know some that laugh for 20 minutes before going to the dentist or other medical treatments, to avoid taking pain killers or using Novocain!

What advice would you give to someone who has trouble “laughing at them?”

With regards to laughter wellness, to benefit from it, you don’t have to have a sense of humor, nor ‘get a joke’.  Laughter wellness is like EXERCISE, thinking of it like jogging or doing sit-ups.  Just the ‘act of laughing’ is what brings on the health benefits.   I meet many people in my business. Many people share stories of being reprimanded for laughing or smiling in schools, orphanages, etc.  As adults, there are specific reasons WHY a person does not laugh readily.

Another way I would word ‘being able to laugh at oneself’ would be to say: let it go.  I often ask people, ‘how much weight to you want to put on that particular issue that is bringing you down?’  Do you want that issue, action, person to cause you ill health or stress?  It’s another way I get people to RE-LOOK at how they see something that is troubling them.  Then, instead of being able to ‘laugh it off’, a person can use personal reasoning, making it their own decision, on whether they want to ‘let it go’.  Since, that’s what ‘laughing at one’s self’ does; lightens up the attitude and causes the person to look at themselves in a more forgiving way.

How do you make others laugh?

Helen Marie Szollosy

I don’t.  I was trained to ‘invite’ my audiences to laugh in order to promote healthy socialization.  I create a very comfortable, non-threatening, optional participation environment.  Once this is done, I suggest or invite that they may want to do a particular ‘exercise’ with me to induce laughter sounds (HA, HO, HE).  In the process of creating a relaxed environment; and then doing the ‘silly, mirthful’ activities – some people just naturally start to laugh!   For example: I can ask my audience to say the Vowel sounds and laugh with each one.  I announce ‘Let’s try the letter ‘A’.  Aaaaaaaaa hey hey hey hey hey; then onto the letter  ‘E’eee hee hee hee hee hee  and so forth.  Some people feel silly and freely start to laugh and smile.  Some don’t participate and that’s okay.  Afterwards, I’m complimented for ‘allowing people to BE’ without forcing participation.

Tell me something about smiling or laughing that people may not know!

Ah!  I LOVE this one!  Do you know that an area in the middle-top of the brain is known as the area for empathic response?  This means, if I gently smile at you – there’s a chance you will automatically return the smile, even if you don’t know me.   The same goes for a scowl or angry action.  Just by doing a specific action, I can cause a chain reaction.   I started a HA HA Helen’s SMILE CAMPAIGN where I give myself a point if I get a smile returned; or 2 points if I get a smile and a verbal response.  I started this as a scientific experiment; and soon it became something that gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling, I realized the POWER!  Just by smiling gently, I could uplift and lighten-up the person with whom I shared the smile, as well as myself!

Smiling has the SAME health benefits as laughing!  There was a test done called the Straw smile experiment.  One group sat with a straw in their mouth sideways – creating a SMILE face.  The other group sat with the straw in the mouth regularly, causing a set look or frown.  The STRAW SMILE group showed all the positive body responses and the other groups test results were not as healthy.  Interesting!

I tell people, if you’re not into laughing for the health of it, just SMILE.  You can easily do this while sitting at an office desk or out in public, shopping or traveling.  It’s a great stress reliever and fun to try while looking at another driver when stopped at a large intersection.  Gets drivers to become more alert!

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