Trying to manage the daily demands of school, work and life? Get ready to chuckle because laughter really is the best medicine. On Tuesday, January 22, 2013, the Nursing Undergraduate Society (NUS) hosted a lunchtime seminar to help nursing students get the giggles with the documentary “Laughology” by Albert Nerenberg, followed with a workshop on laughing yoga.
As part of the new Wellness positions started by NUS in 2012, coordinators and BScN students Kate Dunbar and Page Dixon thought presenting laughter would be a good way to lighten mood and connect students. Since studies have shown that laughter is so infectious – the good kind of infectious – the coordinators felt this would resonate well with nursing students.
“In the documentary, researchers explained the neurobiology of laughter, demonstrating how laughter is spontaneously and contagiously shared between humans,” said Kate Dunbar. “The event aimed to remind students about the healing power of laughter in its ability to lift moods, strengthen social relationships and offer new ways of encountering different situations.”
By the end of the hour, the importance of laughter was first and foremost as the group participated in laughing exercises to reduce tension and increase wellbeing. Drawing on examples practised by the Inuit for hundreds of years, such as trying to maintain eye contact while keeping a straight face, and other laughter techniques like starting a fake laugh to get other people in the group genuinely laughing, participants felt calmer and more relaxed at the end of a good chuckle.
Armed with fun and accessible laughter tools to remain positive and focused during challenging times, the workshop was a hit with nursing students. Plans are underway to open this event up to the wider University of Toronto student community to help spread the word about the positive emotional and physical effects that laughter has in our daily lives.