Written by: Jane Turner, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
I’ve done a lot of healing over the years, and according to my husband, some of the things I’ve dabbled in are pretty ‘out there’. But I’d never even heard about the healing power of laughter until I met an incredible woman called Katrina Leigh. Katrina is the author of “How Laughter Saved Me: My Story of Survival and How I Overcame Trauma”.
Trauma is a complex and often debilitating state that can leave lasting scars on a person's mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. I know this from first-hand experience as the surviving twin in a case of vanishing twin syndrome. But that’s a story for another day.
As Katrina and I can attest, laughter is a readily available and incredibly powerful tool that those in the know can use as part of their healing journey.
The science of laughter
The effects laughter has on our bodies and minds are profound. This is because laughter releases endorphins which are the body's natural feel-good chemicals that help to create a general sense of well-being and can even result in the reduction of pain in some cases. Laughter also reduces the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our body, and in so doing, it decreases stress and other states like anxiety and depression.
The other great thing about laughter is that it enhances our immune system. This improves our body's ability to fight off illness. And best of all, it’s absolutely free. In her book, Katrina talks about the way laughing in general and things like laughter yoga in particular have helped her to live a rewarding life after sustaining serious injuries including brain damage as a result of being hit by a car when she was only three years old.
There’s so much to love about her book, including the fact that at the beginning of each chapter, there is a QR code that takes the reader through to a tailored 30-second laugh to get them into the right state for the chapter that follows. Katrina was looking for a way to make sure people didn’t get the wrong idea and start feeling sorry for her. This is important because hers is a story of never giving up. That’s why I suggested using QR codes to take people to her YouTube channel before they start reading each of the chapters in her book.
Coping with pain and grief
While trauma is the manifestation of profound emotional pain and grief, we’re all equipped with a natural coping mechanism in the form of laughter. The beauty of it is that laughter allows people to momentarily escape the weight of their trauma and experience moments of lightness and joy. This kind of respite can be invaluable in helping individuals regain their emotional balance and find the strength to keep moving forward.
Promoting resilience and empowerment
Humor in general and laughter, in particular, can be powerful tools to help us to reframe negative thought patterns. I say that because by finding humor in difficult situations, we can challenge any automatic negative thoughts that emerge. This kind of cognitive shift can lead to more positive and adaptive responses to stress and trauma triggers.
People like Katrina Leigh are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. While laughter may not be able to totally erase the pain of trauma, it can help us to cope, not only with painful emotions but also with the hurly-burly of daily life in the crazy world we’re living in these days.
It is important to recognize that laughter therapy is not a substitute for professional mental health treatments. Trauma survivors should seek the guidance of trained professionals to address their specific needs. However, incorporating laughter into the healing process can complement traditional therapies and add a holistic approach to recovery.
You can purchase a copy of Katrina’s book here.
Jane Turner, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Jane Turner is an Author Coach, a Publisher, and the author of four books including the best-selling "Mindset for Authors: How to Overcome Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Self-doubt". She not only helps aspiring authors to get their books written and published, but she also shows them how to build their profile and/or their business off the back of their book.