Have you ever noticed how much better you feel after having a side-splitting belly laugh? You’re not alone! In fact, research has proven that humour and laughter benefit both physical and mental wellbeing.
According to mental health organisation Beyond Blue, your sense of humour is a powerful tool for making sure your mood and emotional state encourage good health. They note that physically, laughter has been shown to reduce stress hormones, help muscles relax, and cause beneficial changes in the immune system. It has even been linked with reducing pain in some people.
For people with disability, this may be even more important. Statistics have shown people with disability are more likely to experience mental health concerns. For example, in Australia’s 2017-18 National Health Survey, an estimated 36 percent of people with severe or profound disability self-reported that they had mood disorders such as depression. This compares to 32 percent of people with other forms of disability, and 8.7 percent of those without disability.
On an emotional health level, Beyond Blue explains that humour and laughter:
- cause changes in brain chemistry that are like a natural high, creating greater pleasure than eating chocolate, drinking coffee or shopping
- promote feelings of joy and happiness, which make it easier to think creatively about a problem
- help you connect with your feelings and better control them in challenging situations
- draw people together and improve relationships
- make it easier to cope with life stressors and challenge negative thoughts
- can make you a more positive thinker when practised regularly.
With benefits like these, having a good giggle is one of the easiest and best ways to boost your health and happiness.
Here are five things you can do to support your mental wellbeing by adding more laughter into your life.
- Watch funny shows
There are few better ways to get a hoot than watching something funny, so look out for comedy television series, movies, and social media channels. You could try asking around for recommendations, but remember people have different senses of humour. The trick is finding what makes you laugh out loud.
For some inspiration, here’s a list of 150 comedy movies, including slapsticks, rom-coms, parodies and silent movies. And here’s 200 comedy TV series, also including a range of styles to suit different tastes.
- Read funny books
Reading is a great way to relax, unwind and learn. Why not lighten up your reading list with some comedy? Goodreads has a list of funny books for adults which includes ratings and reviews. Booktopia has a long list of humorous stories for children and teenagers. Your local library is also likely to have a selection of funny books.
- Spend time with people who make you smile
You’ve probably noticed that being around certain people makes you feel good. Aim to spend more time with people who make you laugh, whether that’s family members, friends, co-workers or support people. You can also make others’ lives better by sharing your own jokes, laughter and funny anecdotes.
- Create a humour swipe file
If you see or hear something funny, why not pop it into a file you can open any time you need a lift? You could:
- copy and paste funny jokes or stories you find on the internet
- create a list of your favourite funny movies and social media sites
- write or type out funny things you hear to help you remember them.
You could even share your file with someone who could do with a good laugh.
- Try laughter yoga
Developed in 1995 by Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician in Mumbai, laughter yoga involves breathing exercises and movements designed to intentionally promote laughter. The idea is that since you can’t always rely on outside things to make you laugh (such as books or movies), it’s helpful to learn how to laugh spontaneously.
YouTube has several laughter yoga videos, or you could search online for a laughter club near you.
Zest Personalised Care is a registered provider of NDIS disability support services with two decades of experience in the care industry. Please get in touch if you’d like any more information about how we work with individuals to achieve their goals.