A recent episode of the ABC program Catalyst, The Science of Relationships, showed how potent laughter can be for reducing stress. Neuroscientist Dr Sarah McKay measured the levels of the stress chemical cortisol produced by a group of people before and after they took part in a session of Laughter Yoga. By the end of the session, everyone’s levels of cortisol had dropped.
“One person’s cortisol levels fell by 65 per cent, while another’s dropped by 42 per cent. The higher someone’s stress level, the more impact laughter seems to have,” says Merv Neal, CEO of Laughter Yoga Australia who led the laughter session. “Laughter is a whole of body activity – not just a sound that comes out of your mouth. Besides lowering cortisol, it also raises levels of feel-good brain chemicals. It brings us back to a state of balance.”