Healthy chuckle: Using Laughter to Improve Lives

For Connie Costa, a little bit of laughter goes a long way. The Western Sydney University Bachelor of Education graduate is one of Australia’s leading laughter wellness facilitators and founder of ‘Laugh and Live Well’.

Connie runs laughter wellness workshops targeting health and wellbeing, stress management and team building. A growing pool of research shows that laughter reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and promotes feel-good hormones. ‘These endorphins are natural painkillers, they improve mood and when you’re feeling good, it has a ripple-effect, from increased energy to greater productivity.’ Connie explains.

Connie discovered laughter wellness after sustaining a workplace injury. Still in pain a year later, Connie found herself stuck in a cycle of pain and anxiety. ‘The pain was making me anxious, and the anxiety was interfering with my body’s ability to heal,’ Connie says. ‘It occurred to me, if this is what stress does for pain, what would laughter do? I saw it as the natural opposite.’ Connie then signed up for a laughter yoga class ñ a series of clapping, breathing and laughter exercises. ‘I walked away smiling and feeling much lighter,’ she says. ‘I realised how powerful laughter is in terms of healing, and I wanted to get involved.’

Connie launched her business in 2014 and has since become Australia’s first Laughter Wellness Trainer. She has shared the power of laughter with banks, stressed out students and her Saturday morning Bondi Beach Laughter Club. Connie says the positive vibe among participants is palpable. ‘When you laugh you feel good, and it’s wonderful to be in an environment where you’re sharing that with people.’

To tap into your natural cheer: 

  • Smile. When you smile, people tend to smile back.
  • Hold your head up. An open body posture boosts your mood.
  • Join a group. Laughing is contagious and easier to achieve with others.
  • Don’t hold back! It takes 10-15 minutes to experience the benefits of laughter.
  • Practice. The more you laugh, the easier it becomes. In time, you may tend to see the lighter side of frustrating situations.