Police Departments & Correctional Facilities

Interested in De-Stressing and Keeping Healthy with Laughter?

When bringing LY Workshops into police departments, prisons and correctional facilities, some of the areas that participants find the most substantial benefits are: stress management, strengthened immunity, depression relief, communication skills, improved productivity, positive work environment and increased employee moral, lower cortisol levels (stress hormones), increased endorphines, lower blood pressure, strengthened self confidence and greater health and wellbeing.

In addition to the scientific and health benefits, participants often say that after practicing Laughter Yoga, they find themselves laughing more readily and easily throughout their day. And while Laughter Yoga does not use humor to directly illicit laughter, they also report feeling an increased ability to laugh and cope with challenging events as they arise in their lives, and to approach them with a more light-hearted attitude. Practice makes perfect, as they say.

Evolution has given us the wonderful biological process of laughter, and with LY workshops we’re able to cash in on it’s benefits whenever we feel we could use it most. And then to bring home to our families – the (de-stressed) and best version of ourselves.

To schedule a Laughter Yoga workshop for your department staff, prison inmates or other correctional facility setting, you may contact me using this handy form or directly at 617.529.0090 or info (at) livetolaugh (dot) org.

Stress relief from laughter? “Yes, no joke.” says the Mayo Clinic

“When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here’s why.

Whether you’re guiltily guffawing at an episode of “South Park” or quietly giggling at the latest New Yorker cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits. A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects. Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. 
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.” (Full article at the Mayo Clinic)

Using Humor to Survive in Concentration and POW Camps

“I would never have made it if I could not have laughed. Laughing lifted me momentarily . . . out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable . . . survivable.” (Victor Frankl)
“Humor, more than anything else in the human makeup, affords an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.” (Victor Frankl)
Bill Cosby once said, “If you can find humor in anything, you can survive it.” Can we really survive anything emotionally if we can keep our sense of humor about it?

The ultimate test of this would seem to have been the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. Surely, there was no room for humor in the camps. And yet, psychiatrist Victor Frankl, a prisoner in the camps himself, noted in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, that humor was one of the things that helped people survive in the camps. Finding things to laugh at helped maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in life—even as prisoners saw others dying all around them.

Many survived with the thought that they would one day see a loved one again. Others used their imaginations to create humor. Frankl states that he and another prisoner tried to invent at least one funny story or joke every day. For example, in one joke they created, a prisoner points toward a Capo (a prisoner who also acted as a guard) and says, “Imagine! I knew him when he was only the president of a bank!”

In another frequently told story, a prisoner accidentally bumps into a Nazi guard. The guard turns and shouts, “Schwein!” (which means “pig” in German). The prisoner bows and says, “Cohen. Pleased to meet you.” The joke clearly demonstrates how humor helps reverse who’s in control and who seems to be the superior being. Even in the terrible conditions of the camp, such jokes provided a means of momentarily overcoming extreme adversity.

More recent detainment camp experiences have confirmed Frankl’s observations. Numerous hostages were held for long periods of time by terrorist groups in the 1980s. Terry Anderson, held captive in Lebanon for 2,455 days, describes in his book, Den of Lions, how a sense of humor helped him and his fellow prisoners cope.

“Despite everything, it’s amazing sometimes how much laughing we do. Irish hostage Brian Keenan’s terrible shaggy-dog stories, John McCarthy’s imitations, Tom’s [Sutherland] awful puns and drinking songs, Frank’s [Reed] tales of Boston. Even the idiotic and frustrating things the guards do set us off in giggles. There’s often a bitter touch to it. But not always. Just as often, it’s just a relief to be able to laugh at something.”

Alan Sharansky overcame his fear of a (threatened) firing squad in the former Soviet Union by joking about it. But he was not successful at it at first. The relief was initially very short-lived, if it occurred at all. But he gradually came to see the power that joking gave him. Real mastery over his fears took 15-20 tries. From that point on, he gained control over his fears and stopped being at their mercy.

Finding humor in the face of death was called “gallows humor” by Freud. His classic example was of a man who was about to be shot by a firing squad, and was asked if he wanted a last cigarette. ”No thanks,” he said, “I’m trying to quit.” Again, the joke helped the doomed man turn the tables and take emotional control in the situation.” (Full article here)


Manage Stress with Laughter

Is there a science behind laughter therapy? Yes, there certainly is. In fact, laughter techniques have been used for thousands of years in Eastern countries, in particular India.

WHAT IS PSYCHO-NEUROIMMUNOLOGY?

“Psycho” refers to how our minds process information, “neuro” refers to how the nervous system reacts to this though process, and “immunology” refers to how our immune system responds to the marriage of thought and emotion or feelings.

Very simply put, when you have a thought coupled with an emotion or feeling, your body automatically produces chemicals and hormones. You will either produce immune-enhancing and stress-relieving hormones, or you will produce ones that increase your heart rate, tighten muscles, restrict blood flow and break your immune system down.

STRESS HORMONES

Researchers are now saying laughter can bring balance to all the components of the immune system. Laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. It provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system, increase the number of blood platelets (which can cause obstructions in arteries) and raise blood pressure.

When we’re laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase, as do Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells, which are a major part of the immune response, and B-cells, which make disease-destroying antibodies. The adrenal glands produce two primary hormones, DHEA and cortisol. Both are considered the major shock absorber hormones in the body. They buffer us to stress and the negative impact it can have on both mental and physical function.

Long-term stress can have a serious impact on the adrenal glands and cause them to shrink and reduce production. This causes cellular damage, which sets off a chain reaction affecting all parts of the body, as well as accelerating the aging process.

Laughter also increases the concentration of a natural antibody, IGA, in the salivary glands (immunoglobulin A), that defends against infectious organisms entering through the respiratory tract.

AEROBIC BENEFITS

What may surprise you even more is the fact that researchers estimate that laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Laughing can be a total body workout!

During laughter, blood pressure is lowered, and there is an increase in vascular blood flow and in oxygenation of the blood, which further assists healing. Laughter also gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout. That’s why you often feel exhausted after a long bout of laughter–you have just had an aerobic workout!” (Full article at LiveStrong, Official Partner of the Lance Armstrong Foundation)


Laughter and Cancer

For people living with cancer, it may seem strange to find humor when facing such serious issues. Yet, laughter can be helpful in ways you might not have realized or imagined.

Laughter can help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Laughter can be a natural diversion. When you laugh, no other thought comes to mind. Laughing can also induce physical changes in the body. After laughing for only a few minutes, you may feel better for hours.

When used in addition to conventional cancer treatments, laughter therapy may help in the overall healing process.

According to some studies, laughter therapy may provide physical benefits, such as helping to:

  • Boost the immune system and circulatory system
  • Enhance oxygen intake
  • Stimulate the heart and lungs
  • Relax muscles throughout the body
  • Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
  • Ease digestion/soothes stomach aches
  • Relieve pain
  • Balance blood pressure
  • Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

Laughter therapy may also help to:

  • Improve overall attitude
  • Reduce stress/tension
  • Promote relaxation
  • Improve sleep
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Strengthen social bonds and relationships
  • Produce a general sense of well-being”

(Full article at Cancer Treatment Centers of America)


Laughter is Best Medicine for Your Heart

“Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a recent study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The study, which is the first to indicate that laughter may help prevent heart disease, found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

“The old saying that ‘laughter is the best medicine,’ definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart,” says Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “We don’t know yet why laughing protects the heart, but we know that mental stress is associated with impairment of the endothelium, the protective barrier lining our blood vessels. This can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that lead to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries and ultimately to a heart attack.” (Full article at University of Maryland Medical Center)


To explore the benefits of Laughter Yoga further, please feel free to check out our Interesting Articles, Videos and Benefits pages. I look forward to helping you bring more laughter into your life soon! Drop me a line to book a workshop anytime.

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