This is the time of year when many families get together so what better opportunity to make sure you can all enjoy some fun and laughter. Best to banish the old grudges and grumbles between family members and start afresh. Relax and let things just be and use the holiday time to strengthen family relationships. Laughter connects us with others and especially with other members of our family.
Laughter is a contagion
Just as with smiling and kindness, most people find that laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realize these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you and in particular other members of your family, you can reduce their stress levels and raise your interaction with them to new heights.
Laughter produces a chemical reaction
Laughter instantly elevates your mood, reduces pain and stress while boosting immunity. Much, much better than any medication you could take. Laughter reduces stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. At the same time it goes to work to increase health-enhancing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. Laughter increases the number of antibody-producing cells and enhances the effectiveness of T cells. All this means a stronger immune system, as well as fewer physical effects of stress.
Laughter and oxytocin
Laughter also increases your level of oxytocin to help you feel fulfilled and in touch with both yourself and others. Oxytocin is associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other people. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps relax and reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels. Oxytocin increases pain thresholds, has anti anxiety effects, and stimulates various types of positive social interaction. In addition, it promotes growth and healing.
While you do not want to force fun and laughter on to your family over the coming holidays, look for opportunities when you can enjoy yourselves naturally. Perhaps you could learn from the yoga laughter tradition of the Indian physician Madan Kataria. He started a technique (which you may well have seen on TV) where playful exercises encouraged eye contact that soon grew into hilarious giggle sessions. You might need some outside help in the form of U-tube clips to get the laughter going although if there are any young children in the family, they can usually be relied upon to cause plenty of laughter. Be careful to laugh with them and not at them.
Ways to ensure laughter
Some healthy competition among family members will often cause a lot of amusement so organize some board games, physical games or even charades. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders so that the muscles feel way more relaxed afterwards and the heart gets a good work out too. Get your family members moving and laughing and they will feel so much healthier and happier!
A giant puzzle set out in a spacious area can get the whole family involved whatever their age. Few people can resist searching for that missing piece of the puzzle and there is a great sense of achievement and teamwork by everyone involved when it the puzzle is finally complete.
Another way to have fun is to all dress up for a special photo shoot. These days, everyone has a camera so there is no excuse! Decide on a theme or a color and give everyone a certain length of time to get ready for the photo shoot. Once you have all finished laughing and enjoying the occasion, choose the best shot and print out a copy for everyone in the family to keep as a memento.
Let this be the year that everyone remembers what a fun time they had.