Anxiety – A Laughing Matter!
Given the current situation that is affecting so many of us around the world, it’s no surprise that levels of anxiety are rising.Should we go out, should we visit friends or relatives, should we seriously consider hibernating until a vaccine is found? A healthy amount of anxiety can ensure that we make the right decisions but an excessive amount of anxiety can increase our risk of suffering the negative consequences. If our levels of anxiety rise too high then this will have an impact on our daily life so it is important that when we feel our levels rising, we have something we can use as a counter-balance.
We know that anxiety has a stress reaction in our body; our heart begins to race, our breathing quickens and our whole body can become stiff and tense. In extreme cases we may experience chest pain and heart palpitations. But we also need to remember that we have the mental tools that can yield positive mental thoughts and reverse the effects of anxiety.
And that is where laughter comes in.
Sigmund Freud believed that we use laughter to take our minds off of the common stresses of life that we all experience and that laughing acts as a release valve for that anxiety.
In the current climate there might not be a lot to laugh about but that’s not to say we shouldn’t seek out opportunities to engage in the healing properties of laughter and to find some time to say goodbye to anxiety and hello to unadulterated joy.
Numerous research has shown that laughter has both short and long term benefits.
In the short term you forget the problems that have left you feeling anxious (it is physically and mentally impossible to feel anxious when laughing!), you soothe tension in your body, you stimulate many organs in your body just by breathing in the oxygen rich air that comes with a laugh and you increase and decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, leaving you feeling relaxed and contented.
In the long term, regular laughter sessions improve your immune system because you are no longer prey to negative thoughts that manifest into chemical reactions in your body that helps decrease your immunity. Instead, laughter floods your body with feel good chemicals that help you fight stress and potentially more serious illness.
As a small business owner I would be the first to admit that my anxiety levels have been through the roof during the last six months. In some ways this has helped me make important decisions about my business but I have realised that this anxiety has been close to getting out of control and becoming something darker. The regular laughter sessions that I attend have been the light at the edge of that darkness and have helped me keep my anxiety in check. After a session I feel like I have a suit of armour around me; a suit of armour that protects me and makes me feel safe from the attack of anxiety that can be waiting for us all. The warm feeling that emanates from my body seems to shine through me and helps me to navigate through the world.
Laughter just makes my day that much brighter.