We’ve all heard the old phrase, “laughter is the best medicine.” Have you ever found yourself in a stressful or tough situation or are merely having a bad day and a fit of giggles seems to turn it all around? It’s because scientifically, laughter truly is the best medicine. The problem is that often in our busy schedules, we tend to take ourselves too seriously and not take enough time to laugh, leaving us feeling more tense than we’d like.
Luckily, applied improvisation provides an ideal environment for laughter! Now some may say this is because applied improvisation is comedy training, but that is not entirely true. Though comedy is not excluded from applied improvisation, it is not required as applied improvisation is training for our day to day interactions, which may not always be humorous. By responding to each other in a real way in improvisation gameplay, we are actively preparing for our real lives where we, too, are always improvising.
Now, because humor isn’t always a given in our gameplay, does that mean we’re not laughing as much? On the contrary, it means we are laughing all of the time! Charna Halpern, founder of ImprovOlympic, emphasizes, “When we’re relaxing, we don’t have to entertain each other with jokes. And when we’re simply opening ourselves up to each other and being honest, we’re usually funniest.” Thus, laughter occurs naturally when we are our most authentic, which is encouraged throughout applied improvisation gameplay. Of course jokes are bound to be cracked at the proper moments, and when they are, we welcome them with more chuckles!
This laughter has several benefits for both our bodies and our minds, helping us to fight illnesses and deal with stress. Here are a few reasons we all need to make more time to laugh:
-Laughter is Contagious: Ever notice that when you’re down, you seek out the friends that help cheer you up? Or a partner with a sense of humor when you go out on dates? It’s because we enjoy laughing with others as being around people who laugh naturally makes us laugh.
-Laughter Provides an Immunity Boost: Studies in the fields of neurology, physiology, and psychoneuroimmunology have found that laughter bolsters our immune system and accelerates our recovery time as it generates cells to fight off diseases.
-Laughter Combats Stress: Just like clapping, laughter releases tension in the body and creates muscle relaxation through the releasing of endorphins.
– Laughter is a Natural Mood Booster: Laughing allows us to release the chemicals in our brains that make us happy!
-Laughter Helps Us Learn to Adapt: The American Psychiatric Association defines humor as “coping with ‘emotional conflict or external stressors by emphasizing the amusing or ironic aspects of the conflict or stressor.’” When we laugh, we see and face our challenges from a different perspective, allowing us to step outside of ourselves a bit and find the humor even where it may be difficult to do so. This further allows us to see our challenges as learning opportunities as opposed to setbacks as we find the positive through laughter.
Evidently, laughter should be a priority in our lives. If you are looking for a sure way to invite more giggles into your day while learning how to become master communicators and problem solvers, applied improvisation is for you. In our structured gameplay, we create a low-risk environment and supportive group dynamic that helps us to be our best authentic selves and share laughter together.
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