‘India’s New GDP: Grossly Depressed People’ – this headline screamed on the front page of a leading financial newspaper recently. Thousands of corporate executives have become victims of stress triggered by an economic slowdown that has been raging for a year now. Concerns about the looming threats of layoffs, salaries that are either cut or delayed and pressure to meet higher targets are conspiring to create a tempest of uncertainty that executives are finding it difficult to cope with. According to estimates by PPC Worldwide, a global provider of employee assistance programmes (EAP), more than 62% of health concerns in India Inc in the year to October 2012 were due to work stress.
Stress is the number one killer today. Most illnesses are stress related. When under a state of stress, the biochemical changes alter the breathing pattern making it shallow and irregular. According to Dr Madan Kataria, the illness arising out of stress include cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attacks; arthritis, asthma and other allergic conditions, diabetes, cancer, chronic fatigue, anxiety attacks, mood swings, psychological distress, depression, sleep problems, eating disorders, peptic ulcers, poor immune function, chronic pain, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cold, flu, headaches and migraines, alcoholism and drug abuse and more.
Dr Kataria believes that stress in the workplace can be divided into three types. Physical stress results from working beyond one’s physical capacity. Working continuously without sufficient rest or recharge makes one physically tired and exhausted. Mental stress stems largely from heavy workloads and tight deadlines, fear of loosing one’s job or pushing too hard to fulfill basic needs. Competing with others or yourself to improve performance also leads to mental stress. Emotional stress is deep rooted and more difficult to cope up with than physical and mental stress. One needs to deal with emotional stress by increasing one’s ability to release pent-up emotions and developing skills to express emotions freely without fear.
Laughter Yoga is an instant stress buster. It has been scientifically proven that laughter reduces the level of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and enhances positive emotions. A study on a group of IT professionals in Bangalore showed that the cortisol levels dropped significantly after laughter yoga sessions. The study also showed a significant drop in blood pressure following the laughter sessions.
Laughter Yoga helps to develop emotional expression through physical playfulness and a playful mental attitude. While playing you focus entirely on the play process and one’s personality takes a back seat. One is creative, dynamic and playful. Most people spend a lot of time and energy holding on to their masks and personalities. Physical playfulness helps to shed these masks and enables free expression of emotions without fear. Suppressed emotions cause ongoing physical and mental pain and reduce physical and mental performance. Laughter Yoga provides a simple, painless and effective release mechanism to help rid the subconscious mind of pent-up emotions through catharsis during intense laughter. Such release helps to build performance and improve one’s emotional intelligence and communication skills.
Business people are very busy and have no time to exercise. Dr William Fry of Stanford University proved that 10 minutes of hearty laughter is equal to 30 minutes on the rowing machine in terms of cardio pulmonary endurance. Laughter Yoga is the latest health craze sweeping the world where anyone can laugh without any reason. Any one can do it; it is scientifically proven; easy to learn and lot of fun.
Jagat Singh Bisht
Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher