We are around 30 times more likely to laugh when around others than when we are with ourselves. That is a huge difference, and especially now that we are more isolated than ever, that is a very relevant statistic. But why? Why does it matter that we are laughing less?
There has been a huge amount of neuroscientific research into the importance of laughter in humans (and other animal species). Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty, laughing triggers chemical reactions in our brains, replacing stress hormones (such as cortisol) with chemicals that we all want in our bodies- dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, or to put them simply, the ‘feel-good’ hormones. These hormones have a huge range of health benefits, including, but not limited to:
- enhanced learning
- enhanced performance and attention
- increased empathy and feelings of relatedness
- feel-good sensations and improved mood
- stress relief
- better cardiovascular functioning
- reduced anxiety
- sense of safety
There is a reason that in times of stress, a simple burst of laughter can decrease our heart rate and lower our blood pressure, along with relaxing muscle tension. It deactivates our fight or flight response, which is responsible for monitoring when we are danger and putting our body into a state of panic.
Even a brief moment of laughter makes us think more clearly, betters the creative part of our brain and establishes connection and empathy with our friends or colleagues. But laughing doesn’t just affect ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally, but it also strongly affects others. Mirror neurons in our brain are hard-wired to pick up on laughing cues, and just like a yawn, laughter is highly contagious. This has been scientifically proven again and again, not only in humans but other animal species, and as a result, is believed to be one of the highest forms of social interaction. Laughter truly is a universal language, proven to traverse all cultures, demographics.
Why am I talking about this? Because now, more than ever, we need laughter. It’s one of the quickest, most accessible ways to access feel-good-feelings and interconnectedness with others. Even ‘voluntary’ laughter (not spontaneous), affects our hormonal system and activates parts of our brains that improves language and planning.
In even better news, we can be infected with laughter over technology. A phone call or a video call are valid ways, so we don’t even need to be in the same place! At The Great Race, we specialise in making ridiculously funny and engaging team building activities that get all of your team in the same place (whether that’s in person or virtually), with the important thing being that we can share our laughter with our colleagues/friends and immediately begin feeling better.
Not only is it healthier for us individually, it benefits workplace morale and drastically improves productivity and motivation.
Book in with us and let’s have a laugh. We all deserve it!