Laughter for Body, Mind and Spirit

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IMG_1860A deep-rooted belly laugh can do so much for your body, mind and spirit. Just the other night, my 15 year old daughter was shredding some items for me so she could earn a little spending money. The shredder indicated six pages maximum, but it really should have said one or less. Needless to say this rinky-dink shredder that was buy one, get one was having some difficulties. After it regurgitated paper in all directions, my daughter unplugged the shredder and grabbed the tool box. I love her persistence. She started to remove these miniature screws that held it together. Out of nowhere, an oily substance and glue spewed out. I still find it humorous that fading dollar signs for a task not completed can make a teenager do whatever it takes to get flimsy equipment in working order. I sat down on the floor and watched her meticulously dismantle this device of mangled paper. After grabbing the scissors, she finally got some free. In her anxiousness, she turned it on. Yeah! It magically spit the remaining paper out as she h ad it in reverse. Then a strange thing happened. She switched it to forward mode and the shredder popped a wheelie, making this whining churn and it came to a grinding halt. The inside components that used to be neatly tucked were now twisted around. The remaining bits of paper exploded on the floor and in our hair. I heard her say, “Well, that’s not good.” We looked at each other and just started laughing. In fact, it was so ridiculously funny, tears came to our eyes. This little shredder had seen better days and it appeared that there was no hope for its recovery. My daughter still had that “little engine” mentality and I think I heard her lightly chanting, “I think you can…I think you can.” Unfortunately, the shredder couldn’t. Our laughs continued and we both shared the type of deep belly laugh that makes your abdominal muscles seize up. It’s interesting to think that just minutes before, she was frustrated and I was perplexed at how a shredder can jam so much with so little paper.

Laughter is infectious and it just makes you feel happy. The effects are profound from a physiological standpoint. It increases the release of endorphins which are the body’s natural pain relievers and it also promotes dopamine (the feel-good neurochemical). A good chuckle has also been shown to decrease levels of cortisol and this means a reduction in stress. Research has also shown that daily bouts of laughter can lower levels of inflammation in the body which improves blood flow. Here’s a great article – http://time.com/3592134/laughing-health-benefits/

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Sham and the Gang

As a wellness professional and health educator, I’ve always promoted the benefits of deep breathing through mindfulness meditation classes. These techniques are great for eliciting the relaxation response. This is that wonderful feeling of bliss you receive by slowing down and deepening your breaths. It relaxes the muscles in the body, decreases stress and even reduces blood pressure. There are other benefits as well that have been well-documented for over 40 years. Little did I know that laughter provides the same value as deep breathing does.

Let’s talk about our emotions. I knew that bringing a smile to your face can improve your mood, but laughter does so much more. Not only does it help us be more positive and increase our happiness level, it can help us release anxiety and decrease our negative self-talk. One more thing…the long-term effects of deep laughter can improve the immune system by releasing neuropeptides. So the next time the flu season rolls around, maybe you can have some fun with friends, tell a few jokes and build up your immunity.

Now back to the shredder story. My daughter was unable to finish her job and put the shredder down with a smile on her face. (Maybe she was trying to improve my mood for this next statement she would make.) She asked, “How much will you pay me for the shredding I’ve done so far?” I indicated that with the cost of the cheap $20 shredder minus the work she had done, she owed me money. She didn’t think that was funny at all!

So if you’re in search of a laugh and don’t have a shredder to entertain you, call the National Laugh Line and celebrate April as National Humor Month (712-432-3900, 6071292#). http://www.followthelaughter.com/laughline.htm Believe it or not …there are volunteers ready to laugh with you and the calls last ~20 minutes.

Now off to the store to buy another shredder. This time I may spend a little more to get the job done successfully.

Last but not least, celebrate World Laughter Day. It’s celebrated the first Sunday of May, so this year mark your calendar for May 3rd. Happy April Fool’s Day!

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About Author

Celeste Cooper-Peel, MA, MCHES, E-RYT, CWHC, CYT

Wellness Manager

Celeste has been in the science, health and wellness field over twenty years. As a chemist, she conducted research which brought her into the mindset of proactive wellness and prevention. After receiving her Masters in Health Education from East Carolina University, she ventured into the mind/body world receiving training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Yoga. Shortly after, she received the 2003 Wellness in the Workplace Award for a large health system in the state of Virginia. In 2004, Celeste joined SAS Institute, Inc. and continues to be passionate about all things wellness. She enjoys collaborating with team members, teaching, presenting and nurturing healthy lifestyle changes. She believes that every day is a learning opportunity and creates opportunities that reflect active learning, being curious and forward thinking. Celeste is a published author, the wife of a fun-loving husband, mother of a college freshman, "professional" front porch meditator and loves to play in the dirt . She is a nationally Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES), an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with the National Yoga Alliance, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Instructor, Certified Wellness and Health Coach (CWHC), Certified Yin-Yang Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation Instructor and Certified Yoga Therapist (CYT). She has also received advanced certificates in Integrative and Functional Nutrition and additional trainings with The Institute for Functional Medicine. Follow @ccooperpeel on Twitter and Instagram.

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