Work-related stress is a huge problem in the UK and, with on average 40 day’s unpaid overtime a year, Britons work the longest hours in Europe. This has led to workers in the UK taking approximately 5 days a year off with stress, anxiety and depression as reasons for their absence (disengaged employees, on average, take even more – around 6.2 days per year) and also affects levels of employee engagement, job satisfaction and productivity.
So, tackling stress and stress related illnesses is important, not only for an individual but for employers as well.
There are many ways stress can be dealt with, but one of the best ways, not just because it’s free, but because it has many other health benefits and is fun, is laughter.
There is existing research giving us hope that our old knock-knock jokes aren’t just making people feel better; they actually are making them better.
Levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine tend to reduce during bouts of laughter. These hormones can suppress the immune system, inviting a multitude of infections, illnesses and general poor health. One study found that laughter helped reduce stress and improve the immune function.
Improves Blood Pressure
Laughter has been shown to lower or balance blood pressure and increase vascular blood flow. By revitalising blood circulation and increasing oxygenation of the blood, laughter is a great advocate when it comes to fighting heart disease.
Burst Of Exercise
Laughing 100 times is the same as 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike according to some researchers. As well as a rush of internal energy, laughter briefly clears the respiratory system. Just like with exercise, people are likely to take deep breaths in and out during heavy laughter, which improves inhalation and oxygen intake and helps unclog airways.
Laughter cuts through tension, allowing you to relax. You become calmer and less aggressive, which may help you form clearer perceptions about what’s going on around you. Releasing negative emotions, like aggression, fear or anger, through laughter provides important psychological benefits.
Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killers. Laughter releases endorphins, which can increase our tolerance for pain.
So, apart from having many health benefits, laughter is one of the best feelings in the world. It can bring people together and establish amazing connections as well as increasing our overall sense of well-being.
It’s no joke, laughter really is the best medicine.
If you would like to know more how the well-being of your employees can affect levels of employee engagement in your organisation, then contact us on +44 (0) 1255 850051.