Archive for Inspiration

Reflections from “I Will Listen”

Reflections from our nation’s first “I Will Listen” event

Philadelphians and tourists alike piled into Love Park on Tuesday, June 3, 2014, for the city’s first ever “I Will Listen” fair, a gathering of like minded mental health advocates pledging to listen to those who suffer from mental illness. Kiosks and activities lined the sidewalks around the famous LOVE statue as people from an assortment of mental health organizations shared their stories and goals with one another. I was invited to attend this event by Christa Scalies, Founder of Giggle On®, in an effort to help promote laughter as a wellness tool. Laughter is one of nature’s counters to the impact of depression, stress, and anxiety. My team and I were more than excited set up our “Keep Calm and Giggle On®” sign and our informative table. Before we could even set out every pamphlet, individuals from all different companies, cities, and backgrounds were showering us with interest and the same prominent question, “What does Giggle On® do?”Humming

This is the same question I asked myself a month ago as I helped set up an event called “Giggle On® the Green” on my university’s campus. As a student at the University of Delaware, I work as a Peer Health Coach for the university’s Student Health Services’ organization called Healthy Hens. A few of us Peer Health Coaches were recruited to help with the Giggle On® the Green event, not knowing what to expect. “Laughter yoga?” I thought, “What is this all about?” After the first five minutes in Christa’s workshop, however, I completely understood. As I laughed and engaged in these quirky, fun exercises with other students, I realized that complete strangers laughing next to me felt like old friends. After just fifteen minutes with Christa, my body felt calmer, my mind was clearer, and my whole attitude was just happy and positive. I knew instantly there was something special about this company, and I was determined to get involved. A month later, after numerous emails and Twitter banters, Christa invited me to join the Giggle On® team, and I jumped on board as the new Mental Health & Wellness Intern. My first mission was to attend the “I Will Listen” event in Love Park along with Director of Health Promotion, Brittany Van Sickle. With no idea what to expect, I jumped into the Giggle On® car (with a custom “Laugh” license plate) and headed to my favorite city in the world, Philadelphia.

With a beautiful burning sun and not a cloud in the sky, the stage was set in Center City for an incredible event. As local bands rocked a near-by stage, my team and I were introduced face-to-face with mental health organizations such as the Thomas Scattergood Foundation, NAMI New York, and the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability ServicesLindsey and Brittany, with whom we had chatted only on Twitter before. The Giggle On® team and I were fascinated to hear the stories behind these organizations and to share our common ideas and goals concerning mental health. To each mental health expert, local Philadelphian on his lunch break, or tourist who stopped by to see what all the commotion was about, we explained that Giggle On® is a company that uses the power of laughter to help people with stress management and mental wellness. The laughter workshops that our founder, Christa, does at workplaces and universities help people to relax and feel safe to talk about their problems, whether it is depression or just general stress. However, it goes beyond that by encouraging people to look at their life in a positive light and to laugh. We explained that our main goal is suicide prevention, but that we present the issue in a positive and upbeat way to encourage people to stay optimistic. People took to this concept extremely fondly and wanted to get involved right away. After just a few hours we were completely wiped of pamphlets!

As rainclouds started drift into our beautiful blue sky, the driving forces behind the I Will Listen event took to the stage with words of gratitude for everyone who came out to support the cause. Even Patrick Kennedy made a cameo to express his deep passion for eliminating the stigma behind mental illness. As a very well known mental health advocate and someone who suffers from Bipolar Disorder himself, Kennedy touched each of us with his speech, saying that it is time for us to “ring that bell for freedom” and “listen to one another.”Patrick Kennedy Later it was announced that the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, declared June 3, 2014 “I Will Listen” day for the State of Pennsylvania, and a sense of incredible accomplishment and pride traveled through the smiling crowd. After a few more inspirational speeches, a sudden downpour of rain forced everyone to pack their bags and head off. Running back to our car laughing and soaking wet, the Giggle On® team knew they had just experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Reflecting back on the I Will Listen fair that night, I thought about all of the incredible individuals who came out to support the same cause. Although we each came from a different company, and even a different state, we all had the same mission: to encourage people to feel safe talking about their mental illness and more importantly, to encourage people to listen to those who talk. This, I thought, is exactly what Giggle On® is all about. Giggle On® is not only a company that works to prevent suicide, they are a message to people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures that it is okay to be happy, to laugh, to love yourself, and to enjoy being alive. Giggle On® speaks to people who are afraid or ashamed of their mental illness and it says, “You are not alone.” It tells them to speak up and talk about their mental illness, and it tells them to listen. By listening, laughing, and loving, we can work together to eliminate the mental health stigma and to bring hope and joy back into the lives of millions.

Don’t give up…get your Giggle On!

Article and video by Lindsey Benatti, Mental Health & Wellness Intern, Giggle On®

 

I Will Listen. I Will Laugh.

I Will Listen. I Will Laugh.

As the Director of Health Promotion for Giggle On®, I am PSYCHED to be attending the educational and uplifting  I Will Listen event on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 in Philadelphia’s iconic Love Park. The “#IWillListen” campaign was launched by National Alliance on Mental Illness in 2013 in an effort to support the 1 and 4 Americans who experience mental health disorders each year. By establishing a framework to talk about mood disorders in a non-judgmental way, NAMI hopes to break down barriers which often separate those with mental illness with those who do not have mental illness. NAMI and Giggle On share a common goal. Both organizations aim to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, mood disorders and suicide.

Having been impacted by mental illness directly and indirectly, one of the things that helped me cope and heal was laughter. As a recent college graduate with a Masters in Health Promotion and a previous employee of student health, there is a critical need to address the issue of mental health within college students as supported by this national data from the American College Health Association.

Christa Scalies, Giggle On’s Founder, understands that laughter isn’t just a tool for healing and coping. Laughter is a tool to break down barriers, open lines of communication, create positive bonds between people and cultivate supportive relationships.

One of my favorite quotes about the power of laughter is…

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People with mood disorders want to be loved, understood and listened to. Perhaps you have a friend or relative struggling with a mood disorder? What can you do to help them?

  • You can listen to them, without judgment.
  • You can laugh with them, without conditions.
  • You can love them, no matter what.

Imagine what the world would be like if we all listened to one another, laughed together and loved without judgment?

My goal Tuesday is to listen to people’s stories without judgment and show compassion. I also intend to promote joy and laughter as wellness tools in an effort to help people lessen their symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.

Christa knows what it feels like to be misunderstood about a mental health matters, namely her experience with depression and the loss of her two friends to suicide. We are both ready to listen to you.  We are also ready to encourage you to LAUGH MORE! Look for us in the crowd. We will roaming Love Park and asking people: “How do you get your #GiggleOn?” Come join us Tuesday.  We will listen. We will laugh. Will you?

In friendship and laughter,

Brittany Van Sickle, M.S., Director of Health Promotion, Giggle On®

 

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Keep Calm and Giggle On, University of Delaware style!

On Monday, May 12th, 2014, Giggle On partnered with student organizations Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Zeta Sigma ChapterHealthy Hens and Active Minds UD to deliver the first ever “Giggle On® the Green” event at the University of Delaware. We first met APO last October when they helped us at E-Racing the Blues, a charity event for the Mental Health Association in Delaware. Students at APO loved our message and style of laughter so much that they invited us to campus in November 2013 to lead a special mental health and laughter session. Simply put, Giggle On and APO Blue Hens love laughing together!

What made this event, Giggle On the Green, so awesome?

We like to think it was because we delivered an interactive, educational and playful stress busting event for college students. But don’t take our word for it – watch the video and see what the students said about it.

Special thanks to Kimberly Blasnik, Erik Spence and Dani Civil for their video work, direction, interviewing and editing. Thank you Pavla Ksionzkova and Lindsey Benatti for the still photos (scroll to the end of this post).

Good news! On May 20, 2014 our story was picked up by Huffington Post College, Huffington Post and Huffington Post Good News!

 

Post Script

Giggle On is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health and mood disorders.  We sponsored Giggle On the Green during Mental Health Month to help raise awareness about the importance of mental wellness initiatives on college campuses. We also wanted to help students release stress associated with final exams.  According to ULifeline, an online resource for college mental health, stress is “the biggest single obstacle to academic performance at college.”  According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “an estimated 27 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness.” Furthermore, and most concerning to us: suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for college students.

My mission is to help people stay alive and enjoy life. Giggle On mixes laughter therapy with mental health awareness. We deliver life saving messages in a fun way.

If you are interested in having us present on your high school or college campus, please contact christa@giggleon.com.

P.P.S. Dear APO, I love you guys so much. Thank you for all your support. Special thanks goes to graduating seniors, Vicky Arthur and Teresa “Terry” Riccio, for taking a leadership role and keen interest in the Giggle On mission. Thank you also to the following UD students who played key organizational roles for Giggle On the Green: Amanda Turner, Amanda Pond, Katie Slyman, Amanda Hansen, Brittany Van Sickle, Rubaii Gupta, Megan Young, Kathleen Lucker, Gren Zeltt, Kyle Husni, Paige Miller, Katie Kiefaber and Melanie Scicchitano.

This blog post is going live on May 17th intentionally. May 17, 2014 would have been my friend Jim Thompson‘s 44th birthday. Thank you for helping me remember his life and carry my life saving laughter torch to others. Jim lost his battle with addition and depression. Hopefully, with greater awareness about mental health issues, more people will be saved from the fate called suicide.

 

 

 

 

Giggle On The Green

Breaking via University of Delaware UDaily

9:35 a.m., May 7, 2014–Christa Scalies, founder of Giggle On and well-known mental health and suicide prevention advocate, will lead a fun and playful interactive stress-reduction laughter session, “Giggle On The Green,” for University of Delaware students, faculty and staff from 1:10-1:25 p.m., Monday, May 12.

The event on the Central Green, which will mark finals week and Mental Health Month, is sponsored by Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Zeta Sigma Chapter with additional cooperation from Healthy Hens and Active Minds UD.

Leveraging her expertise as a motivational speaker, laughter coach, fitness instructor and mental health advocate, Scalies will conduct a 15-minute laughter session to help participants reduce stress, boost endorphins, stimulate deep breathing, and boost their immune systems.

Using various laughter-based, lung-strengthening and muscle-stretching exercises developed specifically for UD, Scalies will motivate and teach people how to laugh unconditionally in order to improve their mental, physical and emotional health.

“Laughter is one of nature’s greatest counters to stress,” said Scalies. “Not only is hearty belly laughter fun, it is a holistic and playful way for people of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds to enhance intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulate circulation, ease pain, connect with other people and lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression.”

With the help of APO, Active Minds and Healthy Hens, Scalies said she intends to invigorate participants using structured, energetic and interactive exercises that incorporate laughter with controlled diaphragmatic deep breathing, clapping and stretching.

She will also have fun and educational give-aways to remind people to “Keep Calm and Giggle On.” Representatives from Healthy Hens and Active Minds will be on hand to distribute educational and wellness materials to students.

Scalies recently led stress reduction and laughter sessions for APO Zeta Sigma and the Resident Student Association.

Kyle Husni, Resident Student Association treasurer, said, “Christa spoke with a group of 50-plus students during our midterm week to discuss different ways to handle stress the right way. Not only did every student leave laughing, but they left with something they will take with them for the rest of their life.

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Victoria Arthur, vice president of service for Alpha Phi Omega, reported feeling, “proud, impressed and invigorated” after Scalies’ laughter presentation last fall. “I think colleges need someone like you,” she said. “Your message was so simple that I think it really struck an unexpected chord. People are still talking about it in a positive light.

APO UD

Recognizing the seriousness of anxiety, stress and mental health for college students, one of Scalies’ goals is to help educate people about mental illness and erase stigma surrounding mental illness. “I haven’t always been chipper and giggly. I know what it’s like to be depressed, suicidal and in the depths of grief after losing loved ones to suicide.” Scalies said. “While recovering from those losses and challenges I found laughter, exercise and healthy living to be one of the best ways to improve my mood and live a happier life. In fact, my personal mantra, ‘Don’t Give Up, Giggle On,’ was born from my efforts to cope with friends’ suicides.”

Source: http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2014/may/giggle-on-green-050714.html

For press inquiries contact Christa Scalies at christa@giggleon.com or (302) 593-3913

About Christa Scalies

IMG_6224_with_crossChrista Scalies’ mission is to promote the use of laughter as a tool to help others improve their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness. Her greatest joy lies in encouraging people to overcome adversity, stress, and grief. Christa’s personal mantra of resilience and playfulness, “Don’t Give Up, Giggle On®”, was born in part from personal loss of a friend to suicide and her own struggles with depression.

As Chief Laughter Officer and Founder of Giggle On®, she works as fitness instructor & educator, keynote & motivational speaker and facilitator of workshops and seminars. She is a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader (CLYL) and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200).

Christa is also an advocate in the field of mental health, suicide prevention and suicide survivor support. She recently completed ASIST suicide prevention training through the Mental Health Association of Delaware. Her e-book, Suicide Sucks: Move through the Pain of Suicide Loss and Learn to Laugh Again is available as a free download.

Testimonials about past events, including from college students at UD can be found at Client Testimonials and this blog post.

For additional information about the benefits of laughter, resources on laughter, mental health, suicide prevention and grief recovery visit www.giggleon.com

Laugh More with Team Giggle On 2013!

Yo!eracing_logo

Yes, you!

Team Giggle On is baaaaaaack!

Join me on Sunday, October 27, 2013 and get your Giggle On for the Mental Health Association of Delaware!

My mission is laughter and laughter ALWAYS finds a way!

By the way, today, October 10, 2013, is World Mental Health Day, and it is the perfect time to raise awareness about mental health.

Why I Support MHA’s E-Racing the Blues event

I support the MHA because I believe in the importance of raising awareness about depression, mental illness and suicide. Every life matters. Everyone deserves the chance to live and to live well.

I am also very thankful for the opportunity to attend a recent ASIST suicide prevention training provided by the MHA. Within 48 hours of the training, I was using what I learned on a Skype call with someone in need of help. Thanks MHA, specifically: Laurie, Ali, Jennifer, Emily, Jim & Roberta!

I understand the important exercise plays in mental health from my own personal experience and from medical research. Walking, running, swimming, weight lifting, yoga and laughter have a real and significant positive impact on mood.

  • How many times have you felt better after a great workout?
  • How does your mood change with or without exercise?
  • Are you looking for ways to boost your endorphins and lower your cortisol naturally?
  • Want more energy? Better sleep?

I am also very thankful to the MHA for for the opportunity to attend a recent ASIST suicide prevention training class. Within 48 hours of the training, I was using what I learned on a Skype call with someone in need of help. Thanks MHA, specifically: Laurie, Ali, Jennifer, Emily, Jim & Roberta!

Get your Exercise On!

Reference: Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity, Mayo Clinic

Let’s show Wilmington how Team Giggle On rocks the E-Racing the Blues event!

Register for the Team

Click right here to be redirected to our team sign up page.

Look for this drop-down box at the bottom of the registration page:TeamName-GiggleOn

 

 

 Drop that baby down and choose Giggle On. Then click the Continue button to proceed with your registration. The first 30 registered team members will be given a “Stress Less, Laugh More” shirt.stress-less-t-shirt

So, get to clickin’ and register!

If you are unable to participate in the 5K walk/run or the 10K, but would like to make a donation to support the Mental Health Association, please click here and unload the contents of your bank account. *giggle* We appreciate anything you can do!

Date & Time

This year I’ll be leading the 5K Laughter Warm-Up at 9:00 am. You read that right: I will be conducting a 10-minute laughter warm-up session that will prepare 5K participants’ bodies and minds for the race while teaching them how to laugh unconditionally in order to improve their mental, physical and emotional health.

Team Giggle On 2013 will hit Dravo Plaza on the Wilmington Riverfront this October 27th at 8:30 am and WE NEED YOU to make this event memorable whether you run/walk or not! Come out and help me show the participants how to warm up by getting their Giggle On!

We need YOU to help E-Race the Blues!

Dedication

This year’s team is dedicated to anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide especially all my SOS friends (SOS is an acronym for Survivor of Suicide), people like Kelli, Jayla, Annie, Shawn, Dawn, Patti, Kim, Erica, Dempsey and especially friends and family of the Two Jims,  James Karl Thompson & Jim Ed Sims.

Directions to Dravo Plaza in Wilmington, DE

Dravo Plaza is near Frawley Stadium where the Blue Rocks play.  Get directions here.

Attire

In previous years, we wore silly hats and clown noses to rev up the fun and playfulness. If you have gear from prior years, by all means wear it, but don’t feel compelled. We’ll love you, take you and laugh with you no matter what you wear. Just PLEASE make sure you come clothed. Nobody but your momma wants to see your birthday suit. Capiche?