The healing power of laughter is something that laughter coach Allison Marcotte is very familiar with. Having gone through some tough times of her own in recent years, including the heartbreaking deaths of loved ones, she is well-aware of its ability to help people cope with lifes tragedies and absurdities.
If I hadnt had the laughter, Id probably be at the mental health ward, Marcotte said, as she went on to describe her changing personality over the years.
I was a very serious person, she recalled. I would laugh when all the work was done. So I didnt laugh a lot, and then about four or five years ago when I got introduced to Laughter Yoga, it changed my life.
Mentally, laughing elevates mood, improves brain functioning and communication skills, facilitates learning, increases creativity and rapport with others and replaces negative emotions with positive ones.
Physically, it reduces stress and anger, increases energy and endorphin levels, protects the heart, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system, improves blood circulation, digestion and respiration, relaxes the muscles and decreases anxiety.
They say 10 minutes of laughter is like 30 minutes on a rowing machine, Marcotte noted. I always say to people, What would you rather do, laugh or work out?
It changed my life for the better, and so thats kind of why Im here every Thursday night, regardless of whether theres one or 21 of us -- because to me, if I can help make one persons life a little bit better, then Ive served my purpose.