Shelters & Homeless Services

Help Your Clients Heal through Laughter:

When bringing LY Workshops into shelters and homeless centers, some of the areas that participants find the most substantial benefits are: depression relief, improved social connection, strengthened self-confidence, greater concentration in the daytime and deeper sleep in the evening, strengthened immunity, decreased cortisol levels (stress hormones), increased endorphines, lower blood pressure, improved communication skills, and quicker healing and recovery.

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. 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. Evolution has given us the wonderful gift of laughter, and with Laughter Yoga we’re able to cash in on it’s benefits whenever we feel we could use it most.

To schedule a Laughter Yoga workshop for your shelter or homeless center, you may contact me using this handy form or directly at 617.529.0090 or info (at) livetolaugh (dot) org.

Laughter Therapy Effective for Improving Depression and Sleep

(Source: Geriatrics Gerontology International)

“Depression has been classified as a mood disorder or “affective” disorder. Mood is defined as a powerful, sustained emotion that, in the extreme, markedly affects a person’s perception of the world and ability to adequately function in society. Mood disorders are among the most common health problems doctors see every day. Mood disorders are divided into two major categories: depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. Depression affects approximately 5 percent of the population at any given time, and about 30 percent of adults will suffer from depression over a lifetime. Women are two to three times more likely to experience depression than men.

Sleep is one of the most mysterious of all human activities. Exactly what happens during sleep is still not completely understood.One of mankind’s oldest complaints, insomnia is the chronic inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. While everyone occasionally experiences a sleepless night now and then without harm, long-term insomnia can be debilitating. Insomnia is not a disease unto itself but a condition associated with a number of different physical and emotional disorders. The incidence of insomnia is higher among people with chronic illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, kidney trouble, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Pregnancy, alcohol intake, stress, and depression are also leading causes of insomnia.

Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort. Medical professionals have recognized that those patients who maintained a positive mental attitude and shared laughter responded better to treatment.Physiological responses to laughter include increased respiration, circulation, hormonal and digestive enzyme secretion, and a leveling of the blood pressure. A recent study investigated the effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognition and sleep in elderly adults living in a community dwelling. The study included 109 subjects aged 65 years and older. The participants were divided into two groups with 48 subjects in the laughter therapy group and 61 subjects in the control group. The groups were compared using depression evaluations, mental health examinations and sleep quality tests. At the start of the study, there were no significant differences between the two groups on any of the evaluations. When the study ended, it was found that levels of depression and insomnia had significantly decreased in the laughter therapy group. It was also found that overall sleep quality and mental cognition had improved in the laughter therapy group. These findings suggest that laughter therapy is a useful and cost-effective treatment option to improve depression, cognition and sleep quality in elderly adults.” (Full article at NHI)

11 Ko HJ, Youn CH. Effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognition and sleep among the community-dwelling elderly. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2011.


Laughter: The Best Medicine

“Laughter reduces pain, increases job performance, connects people emotionally, and improves the flow of oxygen to the heart and brain.”

“Laughter, it’s said, is the best medicine. And there’s lots of evidence that laughter does lots of good things for us. It reduces pain and allows us to tolerate discomfort. It reduces blood sugar levels, increasing glucose tolerance in diabetics and non-diabetics alike. It improves your job performance, especially if your work depends on creativity and solving complex problems. Its role in intimate relationships is vastly underestimated and it really is the glue of good marriages. It synchronizes the brains of speaker and listener so that they are emotionally attuned.

Laughter establishes — or restores — a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. In fact, some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together. And all the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.

Now comes hard new evidence that laughter helps your blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand, increasing blood flow. In other words, it’s good for your heart and brain, two organs that require the steady flow of oxygen carried in the blood.

At this year’s meeting of the American College of Cardiology, Michael Miller, M.D., of the University of Maryland reported that in a study of 20 healthy people, provoking laughter did as much good for their arteries as aerobic activity. He doesn’t recommend that you laugh and not exercise. But he does advise that you try to laugh on a regular basis. The endothelium, he explains, regulates blood flow and adjusts the propensity of blood to coagulate and clot. In addition, it secretes assorted chemicals in response to wounds, infection or irritation. It also plays an important role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

“The endothelium is the first line in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries,” said Dr. Miller. “So given the results of our study, it is conceivable that laughing may be important to maintain a healthy endothelium. And reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.” (Full article at Psychology Today)


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)

Approaches to Creativity and Discovery

“Should we take creativity seriously at a time of global financial and environmental crises? Not if we want to find solutions, argues Professor Julian Evans (UCL Chemistry).

In an article based on the Presidential Lecture to the Chemical and Physical Society first published in Sophia, he proposes that there is an intimate connection between laughter and creativity. Is he serious?” (Full article via UCL)


The Effect of Mirthful Laughter on Stress and Natural Killer Cell (NKT) Activity

CONTEXT:  A recent survey of rural Midwestern cancer patients revealed that humor was one of the most frequently used complementary therapies. Psychoneuroimmunology research suggests that, in addition to its established psychological benefits, humor may have physiological effects on immune functioning.

OBJECTIVE:  To determine the effect of laughter on self-reported stress and natural killer cell activity.DESIGN:Randomized, pre-post test with comparison group.

SETTING:  Indiana State University Sycamore Nursing Center, which is a nurse-managed community health clinic in a mid-sized, Midwestern city.

PARTICIPANTS:  33 healthy adult women.

INTERVENTION:  Experimental subjects viewed a humorous video while subjects in the distraction control group viewed a tourism video.

RESULTS:  Stress decreased for subjects in the humor group, compared with those in the distraction group (U32 = 215.5; P = .004). Amount of mirthful laughter correlated with postintervention stress measures for persons in the humor group (r16 = -.655; P = .004). Subjects who scored greater than 25 on the humor response scale had increased immune function postintervention (t16 = 2.52 P = .037) and compared with the remaining participants (t32 = 32.1; P = .04). Humor response scale scores correlated with changes in NK cell activity (r16 = .744; P = 001).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:  Self-reported stress and arousal (Stress Arousal Check List), mirthful laughter (Humor Response Scale), and immune function (chromium release natural killer [NK] cell cytotoxicity assay).

CONCLUSION:  Laughter may reduce stress and improve NK cell activity. As low NK cell activity is linked to decreased disease resistance and increased morbidity in persons with cancer and HIV disease, laughter may be a useful cognitive-behavioral intervention.” (Article via U.S. National Library of Medicine)


Laughter Yoga versus Group Exercise Program: Controlled Depression Study

BACKGROUND: Laughter Yoga founded by M. Kataria is a combination of unconditioned laughter and yogic breathing. Its effect on mental and physical aspects of healthy individuals was shown to be beneficial.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of Kataria’s Laughter Yoga and group exercise therapy in decreasing depression and increasing life satisfaction in older adult women of a cultural community of Tehran, Iran.

METHODS: Seventy depressed old women who were members of a cultural community of Tehran were chosen by Geriatric depression scale (score>10). After completion of Life Satisfaction Scale pre-test and demographic questionnaire, subjects were randomized into three groups of laughter therapy, exercise therapy, and control. Subsequently, depression post-test and life satisfaction post-test were done for all three groups. The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance and Bonferroni’s correction.

RESULTS: Sixty subjects completed the study. The analysis revealed a significant difference in decrease in depression scores of both Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy group in comparison to control group (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). There was no significant difference between Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy groups. The increase in life satisfaction of Laughter Yoga group showed a significant difference in comparison with control group (p<0.001). No significant difference was found between exercise therapy and either control or Laughter Yoga group.

CONCLUSION: Our findings showed that Laughter Yoga is at least as effective as group exercise program in improvement of depression and life satisfaction of elderly depressed women.” (Full article at PubMed.gov)


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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