Did you know that the world celebrates Laugh at Work Week? It kicks off on April 1st and ends on April 7th.
How very appropriate that April Fools Day begins a week dedicated to having fun at work and giving credit to the value of humor and laughter brings to the business.
Most people remember April Fools Day because it is the day when pranks, stunts, practical jokes, and spoofs abound. You now have permission to carry the fun over for the next 6 days.
Studies show that those with a sense of humor are better communicators, team players and are more creative problem solvers. And contrary to popular belief are more productive and less distracted than their humorless counterparts.
One other advantage of maintaining a sense of humor and being able to freely laugh is that it provides us with a powerful sense of perspective and ability to build relationships with those around us.
‘Happy Hour’ is any time you make it.
Laughter is Good for the Soul
A recent study conducted, by the University of California at Irvine, showed merely anticipating an enjoyable event or positive outcome elevates mood and boosts immune system functions. This is referred to as the ‘biology of hope’. Stress hormones do a lot more than regulate the immune system; they also contribute to issues such as depression.
Research has also shown that when laughter is provoked, pain thresholds are significantly increased. Across all tests, the participants’ ability to tolerate pain jumped after laughing. The results are best explained by the action of endorphins released by laughter. In addition to giving us a “buzz,” endorphins help us ignore pain.
Soap is to the body, what laughter is to the soul.
~ Yiddish Proverb
Laughter: It’s Good for your Health
How do we know that “laughter is the best medicine”? When stressed out, the body constricts blood vessels, elevates the production of potentially damaging stress hormones, and raises blood pressure. Short periods of stress are normal and not dangerous, but over long periods of time stress weakens the immune system, increases the chances for diabetes and makes heart problems more likely.
According to a study conducted by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center, people with heart disease are 40% less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.” It is believed that laughter and a sense of humor may also protect against heart attacks by helping prevent heart disease.
A good belly laugh has the same positive cardiovascular effects as a sustained aerobic workout. One study found that just 10 seconds of hearty laughs produces the same aerobic effect as 5 full minutes of moderate jogging. When you laugh really hard your large muscles move, your breathing increases and your heart rate gets a boost. So, if you are feeling guilty about not exercising, get up in the morning, laugh your head off! Scientists have found that a good laugh is also a calorie burner. Dieters looking for an extra edge might want to consider exercising their sense of humor.
In a study conducted at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, researchers recruited 45 pairs of friends and played them comedy clips before measuring how many calories they burned when they laughed. The results showed the participants burned 20 percent more calories when laughing, compared to not laughing. It was calculated that if somebody laughed for 10 or 15 minutes a day, they could burn up to 50 calories a day depending on body size and the intensity of the laughter. Over the course of 12 months that translated to losing two kilograms (4.4 pounds) in a year!
A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.
Get the Last Laugh on Colds
Another international research team at Oxford University found that when people laugh hard (the kind that leaves them almost physically exhausted with tears in their eyes), the human body triggers the release of the endorphin hormones. An “endorphin rush” is your own private narcotic and one kind, the beta-endorphins, are stronger than morphine and have been shown to play a part in everything from alcoholism to diabetes to aging of the brain . In addition to acting as an analgesic, endorphins can also act as sedatives. Because they strengthen the immune system.have been shown to play a part in everything from alcoholism to diabetes to aging of the brain
Because they strengthen the immune system.have been shown to play a part in everything from alcoholism to diabetes to aging of the brain
Endorphins activate “killer” cells in the body to strengthen the immune system. These killer cells not only attack viruses but also minimize colds. It’s proven. Laughter is good for you! It doesn’t just improve your disposition.
Want to stay healthy? Get laughing!
Surprisingly, even faking laughter can have health benefits. Real or not, laughing still reduces stress by expanding blood vessels, sends blood to extremities, stimulates heart and blood circulation, increases oxygen inhaled , triggers our ‘natural painkillers’ and lowers our levels of stress hormones(cortisol and epinephrine – better known as adrenaline). Laughter is so powerful there is good reason to develop this skill!
We all start laughing as babies – surprisingly as early as 2 or 3 months old. Although very little research has been done into WHY we laugh but what is known what laughing does to us both mentally and physically. While laughter won’t necessarily make our problems go away, it certainly can lift the spirits and change the trajectory of a downward day.
Did you know that adults only laugh on average 15 times per day whereas healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day? As adults, we need to examine what happened to our playful, fun, humorous side.
Laughing is an innate reaction. We are born to laugh – but learn to cry.
Laughter in the Workplace
Laughter is a social tool. It exists to help us build relationships with other people. We like people who make us laugh, we like people who laugh at our jokes, and we like people who are laughing with us.
Funny as it may sound, laughter is absolutely essential to the success of any organization. Want to decrease stress, improve health and even increase social interaction among colleagues? Laugh more at work. Laughter is the quintessential human social signal that solidifies relationships and pulls people into the fold. The extended benefits of laughing at work include improved productivity, teamwork, communication, stress relief, job satisfaction and employee retention.
Being able to laugh about a situation and laugh at ourselves helps release tension, regain perspective, accept what we cannot change and experience joy. Not a bad strategy for improving business results!
So the next time the project team hits what feels like an insurmountable obstacle, find something funny about the situation. Humor relaxes people, reduces stress and conflicts, and opens inner doorways to enhanced creativity and problem solving. Laugh your way to figuring out an ingenious solution that removes barriers and diffuses frustration. Lighten up a little because being stressed out is not a fun way to work.
So why don’t we use our more humor on the job?
- Fear of embarrassment
- Fear of failure
- Terminal professionalism
Laughter is a powerful force for improving staff performance by promoting a more positive and hopeful attitude. Laughter on the job site has made it less likely for a person to succumb to stress and any feelings of depression or helplessness.
Smile, laugh large and fight Terminal Seriousness!
Laugh and the World Yuks it Up With You
Since Laugh at Work Week came into being, many companies are encouraging making the week a multi-tiered humor-based campaign.
Need some ideas to get everyone to Yuk It Up this week?
- May the Best Caption Win – Take a group photo and challenge everyone to write the best caption.
- Create a Ha-ha Bulletin Board to pin up funny sayings, signs and photo captions.
- Laughing Tours – Schedule a laughter walking group during the lunch hour. Have someone start off the fun.
- Humor Eyes – Use your phone to track and record examples of the humor around you through the week
- Laugh Arama – Organize an afternoon to recap, summarize and share the impacts of Laugh at Work Week with everyone.
- Humour First-Aid Kit – have everyone contribute their favourite jokes, clippings, and stories into a package that can be shared on glum days
- Find a humor buddy – match up team members for some silly support.
- Create a trigger – set a time of day or a cue (ring a bell, loudspeaker announcement) that signals everyone has permission to take a laugh intermission in the day.
Are you and your coworkers spending enough time laughing during the workday? Laughing can be good for business (and politics!)
“A day without laughter is a day wasted” ~Charlie Chaplin
Laugh Out Loud
For some people laughing is a lost art, but it can be one of our most powerful“life coping” tools. Laughing is one of the world’s most potent health supplement, it’s nontoxic, low-calorie and absolutely free.
Even if you don’t feel happy at the moment, who cares? Fake it! The brain can’t tell the difference if the laughs are bogus or not. Besides, make-believe laughter just might lead to a genuine, contagious, knee-slapping time in the office.
Is it possible that the real secret to loving your job could be through laughter? And while there may be a whole range of effective ways to manage our stress, the one, simple, and easy strategy that seems to be the most overlooked and underutilized is LAUGHTER.