People naturally love to laugh it doesn’t matter how old they are. However, with increasing pressures placed on children and young people and a focus on academic achievement sometimes the laughter can be hard to find. There are increasing numbers of children experiencing and suffering from stress and other mental and emotional health issues throughout their school or college life.
You might be thinking – but is now a time to be laughing? Just look at the mess we’re in with schools attempting to manage COVID-19, and keeping student safety and performance high during a pandemic? The fact is, we’re not out of the woods regarding our struggle in education.
Is it not exactly why we need to insert a bit of humour and laughter into our day. According to Dr Martin Combrinck (PhD), a local Laughter Yoga Coach, ‘When our brains are stressed out, the amygdala kicks in and places us into fight-or-flight mode. Emotions tend to rule our decision-making process when we’re afraid. Students frequently don’t test well. Lesson plans don’t flow well for teachers. Often, we aren’t operating as our best selves. “
Laughter – an antidote to stress
Is it possible that leveraging laughter could be an antidote to these high-stress levels?
“There is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that Laughter Yoga can help academic performance and improve behaviour and attendance within schools”, according to Combrinck. “But the benefits of Laughter Yoga to children and young people aren’t just about academic achievement or indeed only school based they can help in a range of settings and ways. Laughter Yoga gives children permission to laugh for no reason but not without purpose.”
Research tells us that Laughter Yoga has the following benefits:
- Laughter makes us feel good.
- Ability to handle stress can be improved encouraging positive behaviour.
- Enhances creativity.
- Grounding thoughts, feelings and experience to help improve concentration.
- Happiness and joy through the act of laughing with others.
- Togetherness and improving the connections we have with those around us.
- Endorphins are released which is the body’s very own feel good hormones.
- Removes inhibitions promoting good communication and questioning.
- Coping skills and emotional intelligence can be further developed.
- Immune system is boosted – less absenteeism.
- Self-confidence and self- esteem can be improved.
- Enjoyable exercise without realising you’re exercising.
According to Combrinck, “Laughter Yoga is an exercise system that incorporates laughter, yogic breathing and gentle movements and stretches that can help children and young people develop and maintain healthy lifestyles and attitudes. Just like other exercises or games, Laughter Yoga can be used to energise a group or promote physical activity.”
“Researchers tell us that children laugh more than 300-400 times a day during play with their friends”, says Combrinck, But what is happening to childhood in our modern world? Children traditionally spent their childhood in play, when they learned about life and also developed emotional skills that we now call Emotional Intelligence.
“Today’s children, in our fast-changing world, are increasingly faced with different childhood realities. There is an increasing need for Laughter and playfulness in children of all ages as they strive to meet the demands of school, college and parents. Laughter can help children to cope with stress and also replace some of the play and laughter time that they are losing to formalised educational systems and changes in lifestyle’, according to Combrinck.
Laughter Yoga is the best technique which inducts more laughter into children’s lives. It promotes group laughter without the needs for humour or jokes. It has proved very effective when incorporated in the education system, as it helps to eliminate the factors that cause stress levels among students and hinder healthy relationships.
There is the need for laughter sessions in schools due to increase in instances of depression among the students. The laughter sessions are an attempt to include laughter as a part of their general psyche.
Children are not getting involved in physical activity and also because of the increased competition the stress level is going up. They are all the time wanting to fulfil the dreams of their parents and teachers and consequently their lifestyle becomes lopsided.
“Laughter yoga creates a laugh from inside your body, so that changes the entire attitude of your mind, that provides a person development also and it is very good for children. ‘Healthy bodies, healthy minds’ is the mantra of Laughter Yoga’, says Combrinck.
Dr Combrinck encourages educators and schools to implement Laughter Yoga in their curriculum. “This will help children and students to cope with their present high stress levels and to create a more positive mental attitude.”
For more information or to book a laughter session: Laughter for Africa