Laughter and Play – mental fitness superfood
Let’s explore the great psychological health benefits of incorporating more play and laughter into your professional and personal life.
Benefits of Laughter
When we laugh with others/colleagues, we’re not just having fun, we’re serving up a powerful hormone cocktail that can literally change their—and our—brain chemistry, on the spot. Research shows that laughing has unparalleled effects on our neurochemistry and behaviors. It changes the chemistry of your brain to make you more primed for connection, more creative and resourceful, and more resilient to stress.
As one example, oxytocin prompts our brains to create emotional bonds, to trust each other more. This explains why oxytocin is also released when people have sex and when mothers give birth, both moments when, evolutionarily speaking, we benefit from feelings of closeness and trust with the person involved, even if the relationship is brand-new.
Humor also positively impacts our memories by flooding our reward centers with dopamine. Humor makes us more engaged in the moment and helps us remember more content after the fact. In one study, researchers found that people who watched a humorous film clip before taking a short-term memory test recalled more than twice as much information as those in a control group.
Benefits of Play
While play is crucial for a child’s development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages. Play can add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect you to others and the world around you. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable. Play helps:
Relieve stress – Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Improve brain function – Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
Stimulate the mind and boost creativity – Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.
Improve relationships and your connection to others – Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Keep you feeling young and energetic – In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.
How to goof about and crease up more
*Host a regular game night with friends or family;
*Arrange nights out : bowling, playing pool, miniature golf, or singing karaoke;
*Schedule time in a park or at the beach to throw a Frisbee or fly a kite with family or friends;
*Play with a pet. Puppies, especially, make very willing playmates. If you don’t have your own, borrow one from your local animal shelter;
*Surround yourself with playful people: they’ll help loosen you up and are more likely to support your efforts to play and have fun.
*Be open to opportunities to joke with strangers: it’ll make the time pass quicker and you may even spark up new friendships.
*Visit a magic store and learn some tricks. Or invest in art supplies, construction toys, or science kits and create something new.
*Play with children. Goofing around with kids helps you experience the joy of play from their perspective. If you don’t have young children, arrange a play date with your grandkids, nephews, nieces, or other young relatives.
Mental fitness is ‘clarity of thinking’
At Get Mentally Fit, our programs and services have a unique focus of educating our client’s on effective thinking and how this positively correlates with healthy behaviours. We find that mental health education is so focused on the ‘what’ that the ‘how’ is often overlooked.
It is essential that the ‘how’, and the ‘why’, for positive change is explored in depth and evidence-based practical exercises and professional support are in place to support client success. The ultimate aim for our clients is that they realise and enjoy the profound benefits of regenerative mental fitness.
Contact us to enquire into how we can support you to reliably measure, and skilfully cultivate your thinking, which in turn leads to highly effective, more positive, actions in your personal and professional life.
Want to know more
Well…did you know there is 5 types of laughter?
If you are in the mood for a serious dive into laughter, check out the article below. I promise you’ll never look at laughter the same way again.