Can I get a WOOT? Can I get a Sham-a-Lama Ding-Dong?
On Friday, March 5, 2010, I presented a workshop titled Reducing Work-Related Stress: The Healing Power of Laughter and co-presented Creating Dream Blueprints to a group of over 60 Delaware attorney’s at the 18th Annual Women and Law Retreat in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Thank you Jayla
Before I dish about my experience, I want to take a moment to thank my friend Jayla for supporting my Giggle On message and suggesting my Less Stress: Laughter Yoga services to the Delaware State Bar. Jayla and I share a common bond as SOS’ers (survivors of suicide). Some of you may recall my interview with Jayla last year as part of my Q & A suicide survivor’s series. Thanks for believing in me Jay. Love you (but don’t touch me…ha ha ha).
The highlight of the event was sharing my yodeling pickle with the group of esquir-inas and 2 esquires (ok, I did more than whip out my pickle, but I confess, the plastic green giggle generating device was involved).
[ Note: I am not paid to endorse the "pickle". It just happens to be my BFF prop of choice. ]
All hail the pickle!
Set an intention & Giggle On™
Aside from talking about stress and introducing Laughter Yoga, my intention for this presentation was simply to remind the group about the importance of playfulness.
It doesn’t matter if you laugh while watching a funny movie, fiddling with your pickle, goofing off with friends or playing with a puppy.
Smokey the Bear once said, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.”
Christa the Giggler says, “Only YOU know how best to Giggle On™.”
There is little success where there is little laughter. — Andrew Carnegie
The Stress Bath
I take mental health VERY seriously and it was important to me to impart the following messages to the group:
- According to Dan Lukasik, a trial lawyer who runs the website, Lawyers with Depression, “We really, as lawyers, are dunked into a bath of stress.”
- Maxine Sushelsky, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, explains that lawyers, as a profession, are at a high risk for depression, suicide and substance abuse. The behaviors required for success in the law can be contrary to those that contribute to mental health, a sense of well-being and satisfying interpersonal relationships.
Chronic Stress and the body
The first part of my presentation focused on stress, what it looks like and how it manifests nastiness in our bodies.
All stress isn’t bad. Being a bit anxious, worried or on edge has survival value. If our ancestors didn’t have a strong flight-or-fight response we wouldn’t be here. Here’s the bigger problem. When we are stressed, our body releases a stress cocktail of hormones, like cortisol, and neuro-peptides that shut down or disrupt a number of important body systems not needed for fight or flight like our immune system, circulatory, digestive and sexual systems.
Today’s chronic stress environment places a serious load on our nervous systems and when our stress response stays activated or is repeatedly activated, disease is born.
When the stress cocktail of hormones reaches toxic levels in the body, it will manifest in the body in the following ways:
High blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue, mood swings, headaches, chest pain, sleeping problems, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, skin disorders, ulcers, chronic pain, drug use, migraines and alcoholism.
You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything – even poverty – you can survive it. — Bill Cosby
Laughter, the best antidotes to stress
“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” – Lord Byron
The second part of my presentation focused on Laughter Yoga. I explained the origins of LY, benefits of laughter and spent 30 minutes teaching the group how to laugh without jokes or humor.
Laughter allows us to release stress and negativity.
When we cultivate laughter into our lives, we are more confident, more creative and much more relaxed.
Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations. — Norman Cousins
The group breathed a collective sigh of relief when I told them that they didn’t need to contort themselves into pretzels, chant in Sanskrit, smell burning incense or have a sense of humor to benefit from a laughter yoga practice. The only pre-requisite for Laughter Yoga is a willingness to laugh!
Since laughter and stress are physiological opposites, incorporating a daily laughter yoga practice (with or without a pickle, kazoo, clown nose or Whoopie Cushion) is a tax-free, fat-free and calorie-free way to improve mental and physical health!
I created a few ‘new’ Laughter Yoga exercises for the retreat and led my new students in: ‘Driving to the Court Laughter’, ‘You’ve Been Served Laughter’, ‘We Won the Case Laughter’ and ‘Appreciate a Colleague Laughter’.
I was SHOCKED to see every single person in the group participate.
I expected to see some wall flowers, or worse, people sitting down with arms crossed as if to say “I am not doing this craziness. This is silly”. But every person in the group clapped, chanted Ho Ho Ha Ha Ha and practiced the Laughter Yoga exercises I prepared for them.
“I wanted to take a minute to reiterate my appreciation for a job well done. I heard many positive comments about the program and I personally feel that many people will be better off from having heard your message. By “you” I mean you Christa and Lani. It was a terrifically interesting program that was relavent for all the participants even the two gentlemen. I hope that you will have many more contacts from our group. If I can be of any help let me know. Good Luck.”
This post was written on March 23. This would have been Jim Sims’ 36th birthday. Jim (the man who inspired the name Giggle On) lost his battle with depression last October. Mental illness and addiction are treatable. Both Jim Thompson and Jim Sims were in my thoughts during my Less Stress presentation.
Please help spread the laughter. Spread the joy. Spread smiles.
Don’t Give Up! Giggle On™ Love, Christa