Laughter therapy teaches people to get in touch with their feelings through humor.
Before you start frowning, it is a given that all situations in life are not funny. In fact, when you are seeking therapy, it is usually for something serious that needs to be dealt with so that you can continue to live your life. Here, laughter is used as a means to an end and not as a way to make light of your situation.
Let’s look at the anatomy of laughter. What happens when you laugh? First of all, your abs start to hurt (not a bad thing if you are trying to tone them in addition to other things). That is a sign of a deep belly laugh, a “side splitter” as they call it.
But what about after you stop laughing and catch your breath? You feel better. Laughter releases those endorphins in the brain, the body’s natural “mood enhancers.” You wipe the laughing tears and your eyes seem a little brighter. If something was bothering you, it’s not taking over your entire thought process anymore.
Laughter is used as a gateway in therapy. As a child or according to sex, we are often told to stifle certain feelings – anger, sensitivity, sadness; the list goes on. When these feelings are stunted, they don’t simply disappear from our emotional repertoire. They get buried deep. Repressed feelings have been the subject of more than one psychological dissertation.
More and more, professionals are beginning to realize that repressed emotional states affect the body, not just the mind. You could be crippling your physical and emotional wellbeing when you don’t express what you are feeling inside. But, you need a non-threatening environment to do so.
That is where laughter therapy can help. Let’s say that you have been told from a young age that angry feelings lead to violence. For so long, you have repressed anger and it has led to ulcers and more than one broken relationship.
Through laughter, you can get in touch with that anger. Your therapist can use humor to help you deal with situation when you felt anger. Since you are still probably not ready to express anger, laughter can be the way to get you to release that anger in a controlled environment. With the laughter come tears, anger, fear and all the other emotions we try to hide. The humor helps you see your problems from a different perspective, which breaks down barriers needed to proceed with the therapeutic process.
How can you encourage laughter even after the therapy session? Watch a funny show or read funny comics or stories on a regular basis. The more you enhance your mood, the more you will strive to experience humor to help you deal with the other emotional states in your life.