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.