A photo of two people laughing during a laughter session at the University of Indianapolis
(Photo by D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Got the Coronavirus Blues? Your Cure May Be Laughter

INDIANAPOLIS–If you are looking for something to laugh about during the coronavirus, you may not have to look as far as you think.

“Laughing for no reason is just accessing the gift you already have,” says Lynn Shaw, assistant professor of social work at the University of Indianapolis. She is also a laughing wellness specialist.

Shaw hosts laughter clubs and also teaches laughter yoga.

“Laughter yoga and laughter clubs both have similar formats. We start off with rhythmic clapping. We’ll start off with something like “Ho-Ho-Ha-Ha-Ha”, which is actually a yogic breath. Then we do laughing exercises that, on the surface look silly, but the actual benefit to them are ongoing. We’ll also do some relaxation breathing exercises, some stretches, laughing exercises, and then we’ll close with affirmations. The whole process is around 25 minutes. It’s like a low-impact aerobic activity,” says Shaw.

She says the great thing about laughing is you don’t have to be in great physical shape to laugh. Shaw has helped people over the years who have cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, or other medical conditions.

“You can go at your own pace. In your chair, you can still move. So if you have upper-body movement, you can still do the clapping. It’s definitely an activity that you don’t have to wait for your body to get in shape. You can just start laughing,” says Shaw.

But what if you don’t feel like laughing?

“If you don’t feel like it, then smile. It doesn’t have to be a fake smile, but it can be. Smile to yourself. The lift of those muscles right through your smile line is the same lift that we do when we’re laughing. When we do that, then there is a physiological response in the brain that’s going to start releasing the hormones we need when we’re under a stressful time,” says Shaw.

Shaw also recommends you say nice things about yourself and others. Shaw recently posted a video on Facebook Live where she is doing laughter exercises.

She says you can also find her on LinkedIn.

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