Thanks to a grant of £5,000 from our Awards for All programme, Feelgood Communities CIC will launch the first ever Wales National Laughter Day (12th June 2013) – a project to promote laughter throughout the country. Mr Robin Graham, a Director and Laughter Specialist at Feelgood Communities, explains the multiple benefits of laughter . . .
Laughter based activities have been run around the world for many years. Some are exercise classes, others are for building connections between people or for learning techniques for dealing with difficult challenges. We have been leading these for 15 years. Our interest now is particularly in working with communities. In 2012 in Manchester we ran the world’s first one-week festival dedicated to laughter for no reason. Now in 2013 we are launching Laugh Wales, a project based on the health and wellness benefits of laughter!
Laughter doesn’t always mean happy, and often it is actually an expression of anger, or fear, or just boredom. But its role in our lives can be immense because of the changes it brings to our physiology – to our body and our mind. These physiological changes just happen with laughter!
Research has been carried out for decades to support the idea that laughter is the best medicine. Just by laughing, stress is reduced, because laughter brings down the levels of stress hormones (epinephrine and cortisol) in our body. We feel better after a good laugh because it increases the levels of endorphins, the body’s natural morphine, and releases natural anti-depressants dopamine and serotonin. And it boosts our immune system, helps circulation and supports our health. Many people have benefited from more laughter in their lives!
So it is a mood altering substance which is legal, free, without harmful side effects, and needs no prescription. And the more we laugh, the happier we can become. We can find ways to use it to help us in difficulties and stressful situations. And also laughter acts as a social glue, can bring people closer together and build bridges across communities. It is already part of our way of life, and we can choose to have more! We can change this world with laughter.
We were invited to Cardiff last year to be part of a wellness event. During the planning I said it would be amazing to have a Wales National Laughter Day, and the idea developed from there. The only country which currently has a government supported Laughter Day is Ethiopia. We would like to make Wales the first in Europe.
Our project involves looking at how we might build a community based programme of wellbeing activities based on therapeutic laughter and laughter yoga as ways to improve mental health and general health and happiness. We want to talk with local organisations and create Community Laughter Volunteer Champions across the country. We want to bring together people from different backgrounds, abilities and experiences. And we will launch it all with the first Wales National Laughter Day.
This is a co-ordinated country-wide project, and a first in the UK. It will include laughter professionals in Wales. Next year we would like to build up a Wales Laughter Festival, train more people to lead community based laughter activities, and have lots of fun with laughter.