Guide to a perfect Christmas

Feeling stressed? Try laughing

Mr Van Ram leads a laughter yoga session for the holiday season. His sessions combine laughter with yoga exercise and breathing techniques.
Mr Van Ram leads a laughter yoga session for the holiday season. His sessions combine laughter with yoga exercise and breathing techniques.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Laughter yoga blends the stress-busting activity of laughing with the breathing techniques of yoga for a unique workout that brings out the inner child in all.

Laughter is good for destressing as it clears the mind and calms a person, says trainer

Every time Mr Van Ram, a gelotologist and founder of Maximum Wellness Singapore, holds a laughter yoga session for his clients, he never fails to feel positive and relaxed. The same applies to the participants.

His sessions combine laughter with yoga exercise and breathing techniques. Laughing calms a person, clears his mind and helps him feel less stressed, he said.

This is why stressed-out folks should practise laughing at home to destress, he added.

"Start by looking at your family and friends or use a mirror if you are alone, and play upbeat music," Mr Ram advised.

"Get one person to lead the group. You can start with the shy or nervous laughter to get everyone in the mood for laughing, before proceeding to do hearty laughs."

As the body cannot tell the difference between real and voluntary laughter,we get the same health benefits, psychological and physiological, from both types of laughter, he said.

Alternatively, practising simple relaxation techniques can help take away some of the festive stress.

HOW TO DO IT YOURSELF

Start by looking at your family and friends or use a mirror if you are alone, and play upbeat music. Get one person to lead the group. You can start with the shy or nervous laughter to get everyone in the mood for laughing, before proceeding to do hearty laughs.

MR VAN RAM, on practising laughing at home.

"Stop for a moment, breathe in slowly and imagine taking in all the good energy, breathe out slowly and imagine that all the stress and tiredness leave their bodies as they breathe out," suggested Mr Mah Siew Chung, a clinical psychologist with the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP).

Or try listening to guided stress-reduction CDs or audio tracks, such as those from NHGP's psychology services (http://www.nhgp.com.sg/Our_Care_Team).

Mr Mah also suggested practising compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. Studies show that people who do so are less vulnerable to intense stress reactions, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2017, with the headline 'Feeling stressed? Try laughing'. Print Edition | Subscribe