With a fast-paced lifestyle comes loads of mental stress and physical ailments. While we can’t prevent everything that happens to us, we do have control over our mental health. Smile and laughter not only improves your face value, it also does a lot for your mental health.
Laughter is definitely a powerful way to enhance the quality of your life if not an answer to all your problems. It brings about a range of physical and mental benefits. Though most of us may have heard about laughter being the best medicine, we scarcely put it to use in the real life. Let us understand all about humor as a way to improve your physical and mental health from the laughter expert, Papa CJ.
Papa CJ is a world-renowned stand-up comedian and has won awards for both Asia’s and India’s Best Stand-up Comedian. He is the only Indian comedian to have shot his own solo special with Comedy Central Asia. Forbes Magazine called him ‘the global face of Indian stand-up’ and Toastmaster International called him one of the most influential comedians around the world. Papa CJ is a certified Laughter Yogi and has helped people with physical and mental ailments seek relief through humor and laughter. His Papa CJ Happiness Project is a proactive global initiative through which he helps charitable organizations raise funds by performing without a fee.
Read on about his take on humor for health and how it has helped people improve their physical and mental health in real-time.
Laughter-The Best Medicine
A healthy lifestyle starts with a healthy body and soul and this is only possible if you lead a stress-free life. What better way to be stress-free then a regular dose of laughter? While humor is something that is available everywhere, laughter is not something that would come naturally to everyone. For those of you for whom laughter is not a natural process, it is advisable that you treat it as an everyday regime and treat it like new year resolution which you intend to keep and be committed to.
“Treat it as a goal and commit to doing it regularly”
There are countless instances of people with physical ailments finding relief through a regular dose of laughter. Norman Cousins (1915 to 1990), longtime editor of the Saturday Review, global peacemaker, receiver of hundreds of awards including the UN Peace Medal and nearly fifty honorary doctorate degrees, overcame a life-threatening disease and a massive coronary, each time using his own nutritional and emotional support protocol. Cousin’s seminal book “Anatomy of an Illness” details his healing journey overcoming Ankylosing spondylitis (a degenerative disease causing the breakdown of collagen).
Laughter not only helps the ailing patients but also their families and caregivers who go through mental stress and physical strain every day taking care of them. When laughter couples with your regular medicines, there is no big disease that can go undefeated.
“By laughing and sharing your problems with others, you’ll learn that you are not alone in the challenges you face and hopefully that will give you the strength to face them.”
As human beings, we tend to build brick walls around us to hide our emotions and to look strong. Humour is the only key which can unlock all your emotions and expose you to all your vulnerabilities and pain. Only when you know what you are not the only one with problems, pain or ailments will you be able to see the bigger picture and help yourself.
Laughter Yoga for Mental Health
Laughter yoga essentially combines laughter with the breathing exercises of yoga. The body cannot differentiate between fake laughter and real laughter. What starts of as fake laughter as an exercise in a group is quickly turned into real laughter through eye contact and playfulness. There has been an increase in the amount of stress and mental strain due to the fast lifestyle and work pressure. It has thus become very important that you understand the impact of stress on your health and how much you can benefit with a regular dose of humor.
Papa CJ offers two pieces of advice for people suffering from mental health issues:
- The first piece of advice is to people with mental health conditions which is to seek professional help.
- The second piece of advice is to a broader audience and that is to recognise that mental health is not a joke
While the first step to treating any mental ailment must be to seek professional medical help, laughter can definitely help regain the mental health and make you more confident and motivated. Laughter Yoga is a newer and more practical approach to treating mental ailments using a combination of laughter combined with various breathing exercises. The regime might start with fake laughter and would ensue into a more genuine one as it progresses.
“The body cannot differentiate between fake laughter and real laughter, so it gets the benefits regardless of whether the laughter is real or fake.”
Mental health is not something that should be taken lightly, ignored or suppressed. However, due to the social stigma associated with mental health, we tend to either suppress it or ignore the symptoms until it is too late. Laughter might not be a fool-proof treatment for mental ailments, but it definitely helps the patient feel better and diverted from the condition and also brings about positive physical changes in the body that could help you improve your overall health and feel more alive.
Following are some benefits of Laughter Yoga on your mental health:
- Improvement in overall attitude
- Reduction in stress, tension, and pain
- Increased relaxation
- Improves sleep
- Enhances oxygen intake
- Triggers the release of endorphins which are natural painkillers
- Eases stomach aches, improves digestion
- Improves blood pressure levels
- Boosts the immune system
- Strengthens social bonds
- Brings about a general sense of well-being
- Enhances mental ability and alertness
Humour and laughter goes a long way in your physical and mental well-being and must be a critical part of your everyday routine. Your laughter regime may be spontaneous or just another exercise routine, but to stay healthy, laugh you must. The greatest of charity is to empathize and understand those that are ailing and help them benefit from humor and laughter. Laughter not only cures the ailing but also opens you up to your vulnerabilities, stress and all your hidden emotions and helps you understand yourself and pave the way to overall health and fitness of both body and soul.
“The smallest good deed is greater than the grandest intention so do whatever little you can”