Laughter is the Best Medicine

“What Soap is to the Body, Laughter is to the Soul”
Yiddish Proverb

Children laugh spontaneously and naturally – it’s not something they have to learn. Apparently children laugh 200-400 times a day, while adults laugh as average of 15 times. Laughter, along with playfulness, gets lost as we grow up and take on responsibilities and obligations.

Being playful is just as important for adults as it is for children. Creative activities like singing, dancing, writing, art, gardening, running and jumping  …….. are all ways we can play and feel delight and joy, if we allow ourselves. Of course during lockdown many of these organised creative activities stopped overnight, but for those of us still able to go out for daily exercise there was often new delights to be found connecting with nature. Back to laughter or playfulness though – how much has the lack of contact with others affected this over the past few months?

Our bodies actually change when we laugh. We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues. This is very similar to the benefits of exercise. One pioneer in laughter research, William Fry, claimed it took 10 minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.

Laughter strengthens the immune system, reduces stress hormones in the body, improves circulation, releases tension, promotes relaxation and deeper sleep, increases levels of positivity, creativity and energy, provides an antidote to anxiety and worry, re-motivates and lifts our spirits. Amazingly if you practice pretend laughing, apparently it has the same effect on our wellbeing as the real deal, and the more you practise the more you’re likely to laugh spontaneously and naturally – just like children.

‘Lest We Forget’

This week, the Good Mental Health Coop hosted it’s first virtual open dialogue event, called a Mental Wealth Trialogue. A couple of the participants spoke about how the impact of Covid 19 on our mental health generally was now being talked about everywhere. As if it had just been discovered that people are often emotionally and psychologically distressed by trauma, unexpected crises, being cut off from family and friends, losing jobs and experiencing financial hardship. Who would have thought it?

What on earth is a Mental Wealth Trialogue when it’s at home?

A ‘Trialogue’ group is a neutral space where communities can gather to develop their understanding of mental health issues, the challenges of maintaining mental health and to transform thinking on developing better services and healthy communities.

The Psychological Bandage

The Covid 19 pandemic is affecting many of us in unexpected ways. In the responses to the survey we circulated during May, a number of people expressed concern about neighbours, friends or family members who have been distressed for various reasons. There’s extensive research evidence of the psychological impact of quarantine, disasters and ongoing stressors such as finances or housing. With Covid 19, we have all three. Certain groups can be identified as most at risk – frontline staff, high risk groups such as people with health conditions, disabilities, caring responsibilities, experience of domestic violence and so on. But many of those not ‘at risk’ will also experience unexpected periods of psychological distress.

Find Space to Breathe

It was a striking feature of the survey we conducted during May, that many people focused on ‘acceptance’ and ways to stay in the present moment, to help manage the rollercoaster of emotions, anxieties and overwhelming stress they were experiencing during the Covid 19 health crisis.

Coming Up Soon! Summer Online – Mental Wealth Academy

This week we’re opening up bookings for our Summer Online programme of workshops, discussion events and courses. These are to help support anyone concerned about maintaining good mental health, emotional resilience and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to find out more

We recognise that this has been an incredibly challenging time, coping with sudden and dramatic changes in our lives, intense feelings, anxiety about the future, loss of contact with loved ones, experience of illness and bereavement.

“It’s OK to feel Rubbish During Global Pandemic”

With our survey during May, we started a Wider Conversation around mental health and wellbeing. Last week I shared some of the responses to our survey about people’s experiences of emotional distress, in their own words. This week I’d like to share some of the ways people said they have been coping and working on their mental health and resilience during this really challenging period: 

For myself, I have dug deeper into how I honestly feel day to day and said to myself I don’t have a choice other then to accept these emotions and there’s nothing I can do about that.

Listening to the Wider Conversation on Mental Health

As restrictions begin to ease, we’re all dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past 3 months and speculating about what the future will look like. International research tells us that we’re likely to see an escalation of emotional and mental distress.

Already the Office of National Statistics tells us that just over half of adults (53.1%) said that coronavirus was affecting their wellbeing, and just under half (46.9%) reported high levels of anxiety. We know that many people have experienced problems intensified by the pandemic – social isolation, domestic abuse, relationship problems, financial problems, unemployment, balancing working from home with child care and unaddressed health issues among others.

With our survey during May, we started a Wider Conversation around mental health and wellbeing, and these are some of the responses to our survey which share a range of experiences of emotional distress, in people’s own words: 

The Power of Pets

by Sandy Walker

Just a couple of weeks ago I got a dog, a little Chihuahua crossed with something, maybe Jack Russell. It’s been years since I had a dog, a decade or more and already I am remembering the delight of having a little bundle of unconditional love in your life. The special bond of mutual affection that defines a healthy friendship. In 2016 I was part of a research team looking at the importance of pets in the management of mental health conditions (Brooks et al, 2016). We found that pets provided several roles many of which are particularly pertinent now in the situation we all find ourselves in.

Being Kind to Ourselves

by Maria Ganderton

As this is Mental Health Awareness week thought I would share a little story of my own and my purpose behind it. I believe the theme this year is being kind and it was being just that. that turned my life around 11 years ago.

To the outside world I was a pretty caring person, walked the extra mile and defended fairness with a passion. But when it came to me I was the biggest nastiest bully around, out to shut myself down and prove myself wrong , I couldn’t do it or right I was useless, again and again self abuse and torment.