Archive for depression

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?


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What is Laughter Yoga?

What is Laughter Yoga?

Laughter Yoga, also known as Hasya Yoga, combines unconditional laughter with yogic deep breathing exercises.

Dr. Madan Kataria, western trained medical doctor and Founder of the Laughter Yoga movement says,

If we can learn to change our breathing pattern from shallow to deep, we can easily alter our body arousal system. With deep breathing, our body will not experience stress response, even if we have disturbing thoughts.

Benefits of Laughter Yoga

  • Stimulates deep breathing;
  • Reduces the levels of stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol;
  • Lifts depression!
  • Increases brain endorphins and serotonin that act as mood enhancers and natural pain-killers;
  • Improves lung capacity & oxygen levels to the blood & circulation of both the cardiovascular & lymphatic system;
  • Promotes better sleep;
  • Internally massages the digestive tract promoting better digestion;
  • Provides a safe aerobic workout. The heart rate increase in 1 minute of hearty laughter is equal to 10 minutes of rowing or jogging;
  • Exercises facial and abdominal muscles;
  • Boosts the immune system by increasing levels of anti-viral and anti-infection cells;
  • Boosts self-confidence, creativity, improves communication skills and creates positive group energy;
  • It’s fun!

What happens during typical Laughter Yoga class?

During a Laughter Yoga class you will breathe deeply, clap, chant, be playful like a child, stretch, practice laughter exercises, make eye contact with others in the group and sit or lay in silent meditation.

To learn more about what happens in my Laughter Yoga classes, read my interview in Laugh Magazine “When Giggles Make Good Medicine“. (click the image once to enlarge for easier viewing)

Key Components

 

#1. Clap rhythmically & Chant, “Ho, Ho, Ha, Ha, Ha”

Laughter Yoga clapping is different from regular clapping. Palms are facing one another and the aim is to have full impact with the palm area, fingers hit opposite fingers. This warm up exercise stimulates acupressure points on the palms and improves blood circulation in the entire body. Clapping while chanting and moving about the room while maintaining eye contact with others helps build energy levels and creates a sense of playfulness and well-being.

#2. Breathe Deeply

Deep breathing brings about physical and mental relaxation. The most important part of any yoga practice is the breath. Yoga (in any form) cultivates deep breathing.

Deep breathing increases oxygen delivery to the body, specifically, to your cells, and aids in detoxification and stress relief.

Most of our lung capacity comes from abdominal breathing, but if you aren’t bringing in oxygen this way (as a result of shallow chest breathing), your body retains stale air full of carbon dioxide and potential toxins. Laughter increases oxygen intake and breathing in more fully oxygenates the blood, leaving the body bursting with energy. More oxygen is good for you! :-)

#3. Laugh

Many of the Laughter Yoga exercises originated from traditional yoga poses (like Lion Laughter demonstrated below) but the possibilities of creating new variations of exercises is limited only by the imagination of the participants.

Lion Laughter, Ha Ha Ha

Laughter Yoga combines breathing (pranayama) with rapid diaphragmatic contractions involved when we laugh from the belly.

Some techniques involve play acting (driving laughter, cocktail laughter, mental floss laughter) and others are called value-based techniques. The VBT’s are exercises where we put ourselves in real live (often stressful situations) and replace the negative responses with positive responses. Some examples include argument laughter, stuck in traffic laughter, credit card bill laughter and a recent development, Brazilian Bikini Wax Laughter (learn how to do it here).

Scientific research shows that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter (or fake smiles and real smiles). One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits from faking it as from doing it for real.

In Laughter Yoga, the “motion” of fake laughter, creates the “emotion” of joy.

Anyone can laugh for no reason (yes, even you), without relying on humor, jokes or comedy.

#4. Silence & Meditation

At the end of the Laughter Yoga series of exercises we spend time slowing ourselves down. We take time to sit in stillness and silence to integrate the healing benefits of our deep breathing and laughter practice.

We may sit in easy pose (legs crossed) or lie on our backs in a relaxation pose.

How will you feel at the end of a Laughter Yoga class?

Most participants report feeling refreshed, relaxed and energized. Click here to read what people are saying after practicing Laughter Yoga with Christa.

Relative Contraindications/Medical Advisory:

Laughter Yoga is not a substitute for medical consultation for physical or mental illnesses.

Rule # 1 in Laughter Yoga is NO STRAIN, NO NEW PAIN.

Laughter Yoga is aerobic exercise and it is not suitable for people suffering from uncontrolled high blood pressure, people who have had surgery within the last 3 months, acute illness, internal bleeding, severe heart disease, epilepsy (or seizure disorders), any kind of hernia, severe backache or psychotic disorders.

To find a Laughter Yoga class or training near you, visit Dr. Kataria’s website here.

If you live in the Wilmington, Delaware area, please subscribe to my blog to stay up to date about my classes and events.

And remember, when life throws you lemons, Don’t Give Up, get your Giggle On!



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Laughter Yoga Workshop

The wait is over! I’m gearing up for a giggle-icous Laughter Yoga Workshop on November 20, 2010 at the studio where I trained to become an RYT (that’s Registered Yoga – or yogurt, as I often say) Teacher.

For all you fans, friends and Facebook followers in the Wilmington area, come on out and join me and some of the best joyologists in the Delaware area. We’re going to be getting our giggles AWN!

The Juicy Details

Event Name:   Get Your Giggle on with Laughter Yoga

with Christa Scalies, RYT 200 and CLYL (Certified Laughter Yoga Leader)

Saturday, November 20th, 1:00 – 2:15 pm

Empowered Yoga – Wilmington

Tuition: $16/ complimentary to Empowered Yoga Auto Renew-EFT students

Class Description:

This Laughter Yoga workshop will teach you how to release stress, liberate the spirit, laugh unconditionally and increase the flow of prana throughout your body. Laughter Yoga, also known as Hasya yoga, combines yogic breathing, stretching, clapping and playful exercises in a dynamic group setting. Studies show the body-mind practice of Laughter Yoga helps relieve depression and anxiety, decrease the sensation of pain, and enhance the immune system while producing a joyful attitude and a greater clarity, calm and creativity. No previous yoga experience is required. If you can breathe, you can laugh!

 

Thanks, Namaste and YOU ROCK!

Thank you to Johnny Gillespie, owner of Plexus Fitness, for allowing me to bring this workshop to the community and to my peers. I’d also like to thank Diana Hoscheit, Director of Empowered Yoga at HAC for helping to coordinate this event and for her personal support of my mission here at Giggle On.

Dedication & Memorial

I dedicate this class to the memory of Jennifer Smith Collison, one of the most beautiful and joyful souls I have ever met. Her warm spirit and loving smile guided me on many Sunday mornings at the Empowered Yoga studio.

Jen kept class real, she made me feel comfortable in my own skin and encouraged me to be playful on my mat. Jen, you are missed but will not be forgotten – EVER!

I dedicate the loving energy of unconditional laughter created in this class to Jennifer, her husband and her three boys. I am grateful for having the chance to meet Jen, to learn by her example and to pay forward the smiles she gave to me.

P.S. about Jen

To my delight I came across my YTT (yoga teacher training) notes from 2008. In a little blue notebook written in my very bad Catholic school girl chicken scratch were the notes I took while observing one of Jen’s magical Sunday morning classes. Her classes were bliss!

One of the things Jen said during that class struck me and I scribbled it down…

Let go of judgments or expectations

When we stop critiquing ourselves (and easing all the negative garbage-like self talk) and start loving ourselves as the joyful beings we are, our asana practice becomes easier and our lives become richer. Next time you head into the studio, consider setting “JOY” as your intention and see what a difference it makes in your practice.

Final Thoughts

Let go of judgment. Be kind. Practice ahimsa (non-violence) toward yourself. When we create peace within, we create peace everywhere and world peace is the mission of the Laughter Yoga movement.

Be peace. Giggle On!

Recent Press coverage about the workshop

December 6, 2010: Update on the 11/20/10 class

My workshop at Empowered Yoga was a big success on many levels.

As fate would have it, November 20th was the National Day for Survivors of Suicide Loss. I’ve participated in SOS events before but this year I was thrilled to be in “Giggle On” mode and not crying mode. I’m making a conscious decision to continue to embrace “light” and not “darkness”.

Giving Back

This workshop was about giving back to my yoga community. I believe I accomplished my goal fully based upon the feedback I received (see Testimonials below).

I promised to donate $10 to the Smile Train for each person who attended my Get your Giggle On with Laughter Yoga Workshop. Based on attendance & a donation from Pam McErlean, our smile & laughter energy will provide a cleft palate surgery for one needy child. We smiled and now a child can smile. ♥ Namaste with gratitude!

Livestrong

In addition to the Smile Train donation, my teacher fee for the class was donated to Livestrong.com in memory of Jennifer Collison. Jen had lung cancer but she never smoked a day in her life.

Laughter Yoga Testimonials

~ the following feedback was received from participants of this workshop. Thank you to all the students who provided feedback. Namaste with giggles :-)

  • Jeff Dietz: “I loved Christa’s workshop! I also love that Laughter Yoga seems to address a very serious matter…our mental, physical and spiritual health by exercising what is rightfully ours to begin with: JOY!”
  • Joe Melloy: It was a most enjoyable session. Your innovative teaching style and the ability to bring a disparate group of people together for an hour of fun, exercise and enthusiastic dancing was most impressive.”
  • Clark Kingery: “I was impressed with how well Christa articulated what we would do in the Laughter Yoga Workshop. I enjoyed learning about the science of laughter. The exercises were dopey but Christa warned us the exercises might feel contrived. I came to class with an open mind so I was willing to follow her without judgment and see what would happen. Before I knew it, the fake laughing turned real. I laughed because others were laughing and I truly had fun! End result: I exercised, enjoyed myself and felt good afterward.”
  • Jeannette Oshitoye: “When I first walked into the room, the first thoughts that came into my head where, why the hell did I sign up for this, this is so far outside my personality. I felt awkward, and believed I looked like a fool because I felt awkward. What gave me the courage to stay in the class was part of the instructor’s instructions, which were “fake it ‘til you make it”. Which I did, that changed my whole demeanor. I was able to loosen up, ignore my alter ego that kept trying to remind I looked like a fool, and returned to my childhood for an hour, where everything was allowable. I am so glad that I did. The benefits that I received from that one class were enormous. After the class I felt as though I could conquer any obstacle in my way. I felt light, euphoric, and elated. If I had not taken the time to just try, I would have missed out on something that had such a positive effect. Now, I would even say that I would practice laughter yoga again. Just try it. Before you know it, you will like it.”
  • Jayla Boire: “How many times have you heard about the healing power of laughter? How about how laughter oxygenates your body, increases the production of endorphins? We’ve all experienced how great it feels even hours after we yuk it up with friends. So take all that information, which is sort of useless without practice, and learn how to laugh for no reason. That’s what I did when I got my Giggle On with Christa. Putting my “smile mask” on and sending the message to my brain (and the world) that joy is always available can change my day. And I believe that practicing the no-sweat, easy “movements” in Christa’s Laughter Yoga class can change my health and my life. Thanks Christa for helping me get my giggle on!”

Related Posts:

Laughter Yoga

Giggle On Guru leads Giggle In

Reduce Work Stress: the Healing Power of Laughter

Adventures in Petaluma

Yoga Breathing with Whoopie Cushion

Tips to Have Fun

9 Tips to Boost your mood

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Survivor Q & A: Dempsey Rice

Been a while since I walked down the hall of the Survivor Q & A series, that’s suicide survivor – someone who lost a loved one to suicide, not a person who tried to kill themselves.

As many of you know, in 2005 my good friend Jim Thompson died by suicide. His death rocked my world. The shock of his passing was a wake up call for me. In fact, his death actually saved my life! Last year another friend named Jim died by suicide, this man inspired the name of Giggle On.

Suicide changes lives…lives like mine…and lives like Dempsey Rice.

Meet Dempsey, Survivor & Filmmaker

Part 5 of the Suicide Q & A Series features Dempsey Rice. Dempsey lost her mother to depression and suicide but thankfully, the creative process helped her get her giggle back.

Giggle On® pledged to help Dempsey make the 10th Anniversary DVD of her award winning documentary film “Daughter of Suicide” a reality! I am honored Dempsey chose to share her story here at Giggle On. THANK YOU!

Please consider making a donation to Dempsey’s project. Reaching out to our fellow survivors to show them love and support is not just an honor, I feel it is my moral and spiritual duty.  Survivors need to know they are not alone. Sharing our stories with each other helps us all heal. Many of us share the same path of healing: we grieve, we give back and then we can giggle again

5 Questions

In this series I ask each survivor the same 5 questions about the suicide that affected their lives. Each story is unique: Annie, Jayla, Kelli & Erica.

Each story teaches us something new and yet all stories are bound by a common thread. Love.

Love is Forever

Each survivor talks about loss, rebirth and remembrance. Each story documents the love shared between two people.

(As time wears on, I see less death in these stories and more love – odd, isn’t it?)

Life ends. Things change but love never dies. We may cry. We may scream. We may yield to change but at the end of the day we all have the ability to tap into love. Love is always. It is forever. Perhaps it sounds silly to you, but to me, it just is. Love is always, all the time.

Survivor Q & A with Dempsey Rice

1. How was grieving the loss of your loved one by suicide different (if at all) from the loss of another loved one who did not die by suicide?

In August 1987, a week before I left for my freshman year at college, my best friend was hit and killed by a car. Two months later, in October 1987, my mother killed herself. I was 18 years old.


These are the only two sudden deaths I have ever experienced and they are really intertwined for me. That said, 23 years later I realize that it has been my mother’s death that has had the longer term and more intense impact on my life. The only other death I have experienced as an adult was that of my maternal Grandmother who died at the age of 99, many, many years after my mother. My Grandmother’s death was welcome in many ways — her life was long and very full and we all had time to say good bye. Grieving my mother’s death was a years long struggle with my own depression, my guilt, my fear and my feelings of abandonment that really closed in 2000 with the completion of my documentary film Daughter of Suicide.

2. In the aftermath of your loved one’s death, what 3 Things helped you learn to enjoy life and laugh again…aka getting your giggle back? (could be a person, movie, habit, book, yoga, blog, pastor, support group – anything).

There is really only one thing that helped me get my giggle back: the creative process.

But that process is multi-layered and full of so many actions, thoughts, discussions and feelings that it is really thousands of things all rolled up into one. The creative step I took as a filmmaker was to begin a documentary project called “Daughter of Suicide ” (that was to eventually air on HBO) in October of 1997 (almost ten years to the day after my mother’s death) about her life and death and about how we (her family and friends) survived it.

My initial thought was to make a documentary about the grassroots suicide prevention movement that was growing out of the survivor community. I thought I was doing just fine: I had survived a suicide and I might be able to help others. Looking back, I see how naïve I was – I was not “fine” ten years after my mother killed herself, I was a mess! But in that moment, I thought I was a pillar of strength; as a result, I started videotaping family members and friends while talking to them about my mom. A good friend volunteered to interview me for the project and suddenly I was making a film.

I interviewed my father and sister, my aunts and uncle, my grandmother, a cousin and my mom’s best friend. I talked and talked about my mom and I asked questions: Who was she? What was she like as a child? As a wife? As a young mother? As a friend? My father told me about her post-partum depression, my grandmother talked about her as a happy and precocious child, and her best friend told me how supportive and open she was as a friend. I heard over and over what a GOOD friend she was, what a GOOD wife she was, what a GOOD child she was… despite the darkness that she struggled with.

I began to understand what a wonderful woman my mother had been and started comparing the stories I was hearing with my own more recent memories of her depression and anger and eventual suicide. That last year of her life, and her eventual suicide, blotted out much of the happiness I felt as a child but suddenly I was learning something new. I was asking questions and actually getting answers about all of her ups and downs. Good memories were coming back and it felt like she was speaking to me through friends and family. I was finally in conversation with my mother! It was exciting and devastating — the loss of her hit me all over again and the load of her suicide grew heavier as I moved forward documenting her life.

Several times during the three years it took for me to make “Daughter of Suicide”, I thought about walking away from the project.

I lived my mother’s life and her death over and over again.

I was immersed in its depth and struggled for perspective. I continued attending support groups and participating in the survivor community which was very helpful, but it was individuals outside that community (my family, friends, the documentary film community…) who recognized the importance of what I was doing who helped me get the film done.

When DAUGHTER OF SUICIDE was released in early 2000 I was invited to be a guest on a few TV shows, I traveled to film festivals and it eventually premiered on HBO. My pain, my family’s pain, was out there for everyone to see and it felt surprisingly good! It was as if the making of the film released all of my demons. My load was suddenly lighter despite the fact that my mom was still dead, still a suicide. I’d stepped into her darkness and came out the other side brighter, happier and freer. I could GIGGLE again! I could laugh and smile and actually ENJOY living!

3. Did you feel guilt for laughing again and enjoying life after your loved one’s death? Meaning, did you feel you were not honoring their memory because you moved past intense grief?

Simply put, no. I suffered for just about thirteen years after my mother’s suicide — I carried around pain and fear and depression all of the time. I feel like I suffered enough! I continue to honor her memory as an artist, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend and as a mother myself but I do NOT feel bad about moving on with my life. I wish I had been able to much earlier than I did!

4. For those of you past the 12 month mark of a loved one’s suicide, what advice would you give to someone who has recently lost someone to suicide?

Everyone’s has their own time line and you should grieve as long as you need to. Don’t let anyone tell you that you should be done with it. That said, give yourself permission to be happy, to giggle, to laugh, to enjoy brief moments of life, to look for the silver lining and to move on when you are ready! In addition, I encourage you to seek out other survivors of suicide on the web or at support groups. There is power and healing in group talk and in knowing that others UNDERSTAND your story.

5. What type of resources do you feel survivors of suicide need the most?

Survivors of suicide need to know that they are not alone, that what they are feeling is OK and that there is NO SHAME in losing someone to suicide. My film “Daughter of Suicide” was made to pull surviving out of the closet and to let survivors know that there are many of us and that feelings of anger, depression, frustration and fear are all OK.

Survivors also need to know that they will live THROUGH the experience, that they will not remain mired in grief and that is possible to THRIVE after suicide.

Christa’s Note for Survivors: My good friend Kelli Karlton started a page for survivors of suicide on Facebook called, From Surviving to Thriving. I encourage you to check it out.  Kelli and I worked on the 1st Out of the Darkness Walk in Delaware, the E-Racing the Blues event last October and on a support group for survivors of suicide.

Related posts:

Giggle On Survivor of Suicide Q&A Series

Survivor Q & A: Annie DiMattia

Survivor Q & A: Jayla Boire

Survivor Q & A: Kelli Karlton

Survivor Q & A: Erica Volkman

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Reduce Work Stress: the Healing Power of Laughter

Well color me purple and call me Miss Gigglicious. Guess who got her first paid Laughter Yoga gig? Me, moi and myself.

Can I get a WOOT? Can I get a Sham-a-Lama Ding-Dong?

On Friday, March 5, 2010, I presented a workshop titled Reducing Work-Related Stress: The Healing Power of Laughter and co-presented Creating Dream Blueprints to a group of over 60 Delaware attorney’s at the 18th Annual Women and Law Retreat in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

The Delaware State Bar Association invited me, Jayla Boire and Lani Nelson-Zlupko to present a workshop titled “Essential Skills for Successful Women Lawyers”.

Thank you Jayla

Before I dish about my experience, I want to take a moment to thank my friend Jayla for supporting my Giggle On message and suggesting my Less Stress: Laughter Yoga services to the Delaware State Bar. Jayla and I share a common bond as SOS’ers (survivors of suicide). Some of you may recall my interview with Jayla last year as part of my Q & A suicide survivor’s series. Thanks for believing in me Jay. Love you (but don’t touch me…ha ha ha).

Christa and Jayla

Event Highlight

The highlight of the event was sharing my yodeling pickle with the group of esquir-inas and 2 esquires (ok, I did more than whip out my pickle, but I confess, the plastic green giggle generating device was involved).

Yodelling Pickle

[ Note: I am not paid to endorse the "pickle". It just happens to be my BFF prop of choice. ] 

All hail the pickle!

Set an intention & Giggle On™

Aside from talking about stress and introducing Laughter Yoga, my intention for this presentation was simply to remind the group about the importance of playfulness.

It doesn’t matter if you laugh while watching a funny movie, fiddling with your pickle,  goofing off with friends or playing with a puppy.

Christa and Jim Giggle On

Smokey the Bear once said, “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.”

Christa the Giggler says, “Only YOU know how best to Giggle On™.”

Set an intention to incorporate playfulness into your day. Create a Humor Plan of Action. Get a Puppy. Walk to the Bathroom Naked!

There is little success where there is little laughter. — Andrew Carnegie

The Stress Bath

I take mental health VERY seriously and it was important to me to impart the following messages to the group:

  • According to Dan Lukasik, a trial lawyer who runs the website, Lawyers with Depression, “We really, as lawyers, are dunked into a bath of stress.”
  • Maxine Sushelsky, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, explains that lawyers, as a profession, are at a high risk for depression, suicide and substance abuse. The behaviors required for success in the law can be contrary to those that contribute to mental health, a sense of well-being and satisfying interpersonal relationships.

Chronic Stress and the body

The first part of my presentation focused on stress, what it looks like and how it manifests nastiness in our bodies.

All stress isn’t bad. Being a bit anxious, worried or on edge has survival value. If our ancestors didn’t have a strong flight-or-fight response we wouldn’t be here. Here’s the bigger problem. When we are stressed, our body releases a stress cocktail of hormones, like cortisol, and neuro-peptides that shut down or disrupt a number of important body systems not needed for fight or flight like our immune system, circulatory, digestive and sexual systems.

Today’s chronic stress environment places a serious load on our nervous systems and when our stress response stays activated or is repeatedly activated, disease is born.

purple_scream

When the stress cocktail of hormones reaches toxic levels in the body, it will manifest in the body in the following ways:

High blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue, mood swings, headaches, chest pain, sleeping problems, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, skin disorders, ulcers, chronic pain, drug use, migraines and alcoholism.

You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything – even poverty – you can survive it. — Bill Cosby

Laughter, the best antidotes to stress

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” – Lord Byron

The second part of my presentation focused on Laughter Yoga. I explained the origins of LY, benefits of laughter and spent 30 minutes teaching the group how to laugh without jokes or humor.

Lion Laughter, Ha Ha Ha

Laughter allows us to release stress and negativity.

When we cultivate laughter into our lives, we are more confident, more creative and much more relaxed.

Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations. — Norman Cousins

Laughing Lawyers

The group breathed a collective sigh of relief when I told them that they didn’t need to contort themselves into pretzels, chant in Sanskrit, smell burning incense or have a sense of humor to benefit from a laughter yoga practice. The only pre-requisite for Laughter Yoga is a willingness to laugh!

Since laughter and stress are physiological opposites, incorporating a daily laughter yoga  practice (with or without a pickle, kazoo, clown nose or Whoopie Cushion) is a tax-free, fat-free and calorie-free way to improve mental and physical health!

I created a few ‘new’ Laughter Yoga exercises for the retreat and led my new students in:  ‘Driving to the Court Laughter’, ‘You’ve Been Served Laughter’, ‘We Won the Case Laughter’ and ‘Appreciate a Colleague Laughter’.

Confession

I was SHOCKED to see every single person in the group participate.

I expected to see some wall flowers, or worse, people sitting down with arms crossed as if to say “I am not doing this craziness. This is silly”. But every person in the group clapped, chanted Ho Ho Ha Ha Ha and practiced the Laughter Yoga exercises I prepared for them.

Appreciation

One of the organizers of the event, Pam, sent us a lovely email after the retreat.
Clap Your Hands

“I wanted to take a minute to reiterate my appreciation for a job well done.  I heard many positive comments about the program and I personally feel that many people will be better off from having heard your message.  By “you”  I mean you Christa and Lani.  It was a terrifically interesting program that was relavent for all the participants even the two gentlemen.  I hope that you will have many more contacts from our group.  If I can be of any help let me know.  Good Luck.”

Post Script

This post was written on March 23. This would have been Jim Sims’ 36th birthday. Jim (the man who inspired the name Giggle On) lost his battle with depression last October. Mental illness and addiction are treatable. Both Jim Thompson and Jim Sims were in my thoughts during my Less Stress presentation.

Please help spread the laughter. Spread the joy. Spread smiles.

Don’t Give Up! Giggle On™ Love, Christa

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