"More contagious than a cough or sneeze, laughter naturally relaxes the whole body. It triggers the release of stress-releasing endorphins and promotes an overall sense of well-being. "
A leading Stress Management Consultant and wellbeing speaker who turned to laughter to overcome her own personal trauma and who now works with medics, global companies and the NHS is planning to use her skills to get Sussex laughing next month, with unique laughter marathon sessions this World Laughter Day (May 5th).
Sam is running three laughter marathons across Sussex, laughing for a total of 30 hours with the aim of boosting happiness, reducing stress, and raising money for Pericles – a pioneering training-and-work project for young people and adults with learning needs and/or mental health problems.
The laughter marathons are taking place in East Grinstead, Forest Row and Uckfield and are family-friendly events.
With laughter being well recognised as a stress reliever and statistics showing that 85% of UK adults experience stress regularly*, Sam, 48, who has helped employees within organisations such as Age UK, the WI and the NHS reduce stress through her creative stress management techniques, is now branching out to offer her therapy more widely in a bid to lighten the mood across the UK, and beyond.
With previous work experience across 29 countries, known as the ‘employee energiser’ helping global corporate companies to better manage employee wellbeing and reduce their stress, Sam Rehan is a Laughter Yoga Facilitator. She has extended her Laughter Marathon of events running in Sussex to an online event for World Laughter Day, to enable anyone in the world to access it and is hoping to make it a record turnout.
Sam, a member of the International Stress Management Association said: ”With the mood of the UK fractious thanks to Brexit and many other countries globally under a cloud due to political discontent there’s no better time to just stop, re-charge and release some positivity - apart from external pressures we all also need to release ourselves from our internal pressures too and laughter can achieve this in just a few seconds- I know - It’s been my therapy. Now I want to reach as many people as possible to help other appreciate its power”.
Sam turned to laughter when a tough personal time left her feeling overwhelmed, as a single mother, living in temporary accommodation with an ill son, battling a close family bereavement, redundancy -all within the same week. During this week Sam found the power of laughter through watching babies gurgling on YouTube! This immediately reduced her stress and kept her going and afterwards, she decided to use this experience to help others and trained to become a laughter yoga facilitator.
She said: ”I was at a lower than low point and really struggling to know what to do with myself. Everywhere I turned negative things were surrounding me and my life and I felt despair. I had no TV but through scrolling the internet on the hunt for mind-numbing releases to my stresses I came across babies gurgling - and could not resist laughing. Once I had laughed I immediate felt lighter, and then continuing to laugh further removed me from my feelings of despair. I knew that if laugher could have this impact on me, then it could on others and I needed to proactively put it in front of more people who could really benefit from it”.
Sam added: “More contagious than a cough or sneeze, laughter naturally relaxes the whole body. It triggers the release of stress-releasing endorphins and promotes an overall sense of wellbeing. Laughing for a sustained period of time is key to reaping the health benefits of laughter, including increased oxygen intake and blood flow, improved blood vessel function and lower blood pressure. This leads to protection of the heart, boosting energy, stress release and gaining more focus and increased creativity. Laughter stimulates facial muscles so you might even look better! Laughter truly is a great natural medicine, providing extensive health benefits for all.”
Sam, who was told off as a young child for laughing and so had consequently adopted a stoic smile throughout adulthood until recent years now sees huge transformations in her clients through her work:-
* Sam helped a man with dementia who had lost his speech. He was overjoyed he could laugh again and make laughter sounds. He took 30 minutes to write out 5 words to me… 'Thank you for my laugh.'
* One lady who had a mastectomy eight days earlier came to a group laughter session. She said she heard about the power of laughter and after felt better emotionally and physically.
* One lady said she had spent three years grieving after family bereavement but after laughing with Sam at a group session she said she felt she could laugh without feeling guilty and felt the best she had in three years.
* Sam has facilitated laughter sessions with people with dementia, disabilities, teenagers with autism and seniors. Often people with dementia, appear to wake up and can laugh and connect with others.
Sam’s laughter yoga sessions are taking place in East Grinstead, Uckfield and Forest Row. Sam will lengthen your laughter without jokes, using simple exercises to boost your mood and improve your wellbeing.
Uckfield: Saturday 4th May from 2.30pm – 4pm at The Civic Centre, Uckfield. You can join the Facebook event here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/2009102886053110/
East Grinstead: Sunday 5th May from 10.30am – 12pm at Yoga Akasha, East Grinstead. You can join the Facebook event here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/785939101771257/
Forest Row: Sunday 5th May from 2.30pm – 4pm at The Forest Row Village Hall. You can join the Facebook event here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/404052780152731/
Sam’s live global online laughter yoga session will be taking place on Sunday 5th May at 6pm. Sam will lengthen your laughter without jokes, using simple exercises to boost your mood and improve your wellbeing. You can join the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/420134821884481/
Sam is also raising funds for The Children’s Respite Trust, the charity provides respite for disabled children and support for their families throughout South-East. Sam will donate for every online attendee.
15 Benefits of attending a Group Laughter Class:
1) Laughter relaxes the whole body
2) Easy group exercises and zero solo laughing required
3) Laughter decreases stress hormones
4) Prolonged laughter increases immune cells and improves resistance to disease
5) Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. promoting an overall sense of wellbeing and can even temporarily relieve pain.
6) Participate in exercise even if you remain seated. Zero yoga poses!
7) Breathe more deeply for greater wellbeing
8. Helps boost self-esteem
9) Feel better. Laughter is probably the easiest form of meditation, which brings instant relaxation
10) Connect with community and meet new people
11) Lengthened laughter is a form of exercise… works your abs!
12) Engage with childlike playfulness for more creativity
13) Suitable for all ages and abilities