Research by University of Derby Online alumna Freda Gonot-Schoupinsky led to the Laughie, a new way of improving wellbeing by encouraging people to laugh. In this blog, she explains why it is smart to laugh.
Laughter has psychophysiological as well as social benefits, including decreasing stress hormones, boosting the immune system, reducing pain, improving mood, and cognitive function, supporting cardiovascular health, and increasing resilience. Many of these benefits are similar to those we get from exercising.
Our research focuses on exploring how we can harness laughter’s benefits in a way that is easy and accessible to everyone. The Laughie was specifically developed to answer calls from the medical community for a practical laughter prescription, but also as a fun way to self-manage our health to ensure we get in at least one minute of daily laughter.
What is a Laughie?
The Laughie works in a similar way to a Selfie, but instead of taking a photo of yourself you record your own joyful laughter for one minute using your smartphone’s inbuilt recording software. You then play back your recorded laughter to prompt you to laugh.
Recording a Laughie
Recording your Laughie is perhaps the most difficult thing. But once you have recorded it you know you can do it, and then you use it as a guide and timer to laugh along with. Dr. Gulcan Garip demonstrates how to record a Laughie:
Laughies can be audio or audio-visual. Here is John’s audio Laughie:
As you can hear, one minute of laughter can be a real work-out. In fact laughter is a great exercise!
Using the Laughie
Once you have recorded a Laughie you can use it whenever you have a minute. You just laugh along with your recording, alone or with others. Our research showed people found their Laughie to be most effective when it sounded natural, joyful, and playful. Laughies were enjoyed in different ways, e.g. laughing in front of a mirror, thinking of funny things or of nothing at all, using it with friends or alone, and while sitting, standing, moving, or in a car. The best way is what works for you. Having a reason to laugh helps e.g. laughing for health, happiness, energy or relaxation, or to alleviate anger.
Our Laughie research findings
During the study 21 participants (aged 25 to 93) created a Laughie and used it three times a day for one week. Laughing for one minute three times a day with the Laughie over seven days significantly improved participant overall wellbeing. Key results:
- The Laughie helped to elicit laughter for most of the one minute duration in 89% of 420 Laughie trials; half of participants found their laughter self-contagious, most found it helpful
- Overall absolute World Health Organisation Wellbeing Index scores (feeling cheerful, active, relaxed, rested and interested in life), increased by 16% after the intervention
- Nineteen participants reported post-intervention increased wellbeing (14 by 10% or more); participants with poor wellbeing prior to the intervention appeared to particularly benefit from Laughie usage, and all reported ‘safe’ wellbeing scores after the intervention
The Laughie was shown to be a feasible, enjoyable and effective laughter prescription tool, with participants reporting a range of benefits, and many enjoying solo laughter as well as reporting that it resulted in more social laughter. Participant comments included: ‘The fact I could do it alone helped me a lot. I really let rip’; ‘It’s like an exercise’; ‘You laugh at life, you laugh at your problems, so it’s gym for the soul’; and ‘I was more relaxed, easier to fall asleep… I was in a better mood’.
Current Laughie research
Remember the Irish proverb ‘A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures’?
Well, we are investigating the impact of laughter, using the Laughie, on sleep and well-being in university students in the United Arab Emirates. This research is a collaboration between the University of Derby and Zayed University: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04171245
- Gonot-Schoupinsky, F. N., & Garip, G. (2018). Laughter and humour interventions for well-being in older adults: A systematic review and intervention classification. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 38, 85–91. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965229918302358
- Gonot-Schoupinsky, F. N., & Garip, G. (2019). Prescribing laughter to increase well-being in healthy adults: An exploratory mixed methods feasibility study of the Laughie. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 26, 56–64 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1876382018308977