COLUMN: Let’s relieve the stress and bring laughter to campus
Laughter is no laughing matter.
Historically, many have looked into the nature and effects of this universal language.
Sigmund Freud theorized that the expression releases tension, both physical and mental. The reputable New England Journal of Medicine published a now famous article in 1976 by a man who laughed at Marx Brothers films to overcome a deadly degenerative disease.
In recent years, laughter has become more and more popular as a cure-all. In fact, it may be the next big thing.
Laughter yoga clubs have been popping up everywhere.
In these clubs, groups of people use laughter — fake or otherwise — for therapeutic and possible health benefits.
Dr. Madan Kataria, (a.k.a. the “Giggling Guru”) is a physician from Mumbai, India.
He has turned laughter yoga into an international program, now with over 6,000 official clubs in 60 countries. His stated mission is to use laughter to deliver health, joy and world peace.
The New Yorker ran an article Aug. 30 about Katara in which it praised the potential of the exercise, describing it as a liberating effect that borders on spiritual enlightenment.
There is some bite behind the bark. Laughter has been scientifically proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Laughing also is a relatively intense cardio workout. It works the core quite thoroughly. Furthermore, melancholy is less common among laughers than non-laughers.
Forced laughter may be as effective as natural laughter. Certainly, the physical effects of an artificial laugh are similar to those of a spontaneous laugh. They engage the same muscles and bring more oxygen into the body.
Forced laughs also seem to ultimately lead to more frequent natural laughs.
In TIME Magazine’s Sept. 13 issue, an article describes laughter club members in New York City who are faking it until they make it, feeding off the infectious positive energy that builds even from forced laughter.
My suggestion: Bring laughter yoga to OU.
Go tickle your best friend, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, maybe even just someone on the South Oval. Try laughing more than 20 times today or for five minutes straight. If you like it enough, start a club. All you need is nine more friends who like to laugh. It’s contagious, so if you start, you’ll find them soon enough.
All you’ve got to lose is your stress. Among the things you stand to gain are rock-hard abs.