Does Your Business Need a Laugh Break?
Thom Torode, MBA (1 of 3)
The idea that laughter promotes good health first received widespread attention through Norman Cousins’s 1979 best-seller, Anatomy of an Illness. But centuries earlier, astute observers had ascribed physical benefits to humor. Thomas Sydenham, a seventeenth-century British physician, once observed: “The arrival of a good clown into a village does more for its health than 20 asses laden with drugs.”
Does your business need a laugh break? Executives and managers today are increasingly acknowledging that laughter is good not only for personal health and well-being, but for career success and overall workplace wellness as well. Around the office, laughter can motivate and facilitate team building, improve stress management, and increase productivity and morale.
In other words, business can (and should) be a laughing matter.
Here’s what the American Association for Therapeutic Humor, composed of more than 600 health care professionals who study the effects of humor on humans, is discovering:
Laughter decreases the amount of stress hormones in the body, activates the cells that boost the immune system and increases the activity of natural killer cells that go after tumor cells and fight viruses.
- Three minutes of deep belly laughing is the equivalent of three minutes on a fitness rowing machine. This kind of laughing also releases anti-depressant mood chemicals.
- By the time a child reaches kindergarten, he or she is laughing some 300 times a day. Compare that to the typical adult who, one study found, laughs a paltry 17 times a day.
- When you laugh, your heart rate goes up, bringing more blood and oxygen to the brain. You also breathe faster, expanding your lungs.
- Laughter increases production of catecholmanines, which increases the level of alertness, memory, and ability to learn and create.
- After you laugh, you go into a relaxed state. Your blood pressure and heart rate drop below normal, so you feel profoundly relaxed.
So with all their prods and wires and gizmos and gauges, professionals are telling us what we knew all along: when we laugh we feel better. It doesn’t take much to reach the conclusion that all this extra brain power and relaxation leads to enhanced performance at work.
Look for pt 2 on some additional benefits. In the mean time check out this page for your own laugh break of the day.