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Laughter Yoga Among Ways To Relieve Stress

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – With the economy and job worries, natural disasters, and unrest overseas, Americans are more stressed than ever.

But try not to get too worked up about it, because a growing number of companies are finding ways to sell you solutions to your stress.

“I can’t focus on the moment. You’re kind of always worried about what’s coming up,” says Cathleen Matthews, who’s taken to playing drums to combat stress.

People like Matthews are finding unique, different ways to settle their nerves and try to relax more.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports.

Doctor Claire Wheeler, author of the book, “Ten Simple Solutions to Stress,” says more Americans need to find healthy, positive ways to lighten the load, instead of the traditional options.

“Stress relief for most people involves fast food, sitting on the couch, surfing the Internet, watching television, smoking cigarettes, drinking too much,” Wheeler says.

So how do you do it? Some people are relieving stress through “Laughter Yoga.”

“Laughter is very, very healthy. It’s very aerobic. It engages every single organ system in the body,” says Alex Eingorn, a chiropractor who calls herself a “laughter ambassador.”

A study by the American Physiological Society found that even anticipating a laugh can boost endorphins and shut down production of the stress hormone cortisol.

And you don’t have to attend a “laughter class” to get the benefits. Or even hunt for something funny.

“You sit down and say I’m going to laugh now. Ha, ha, ha,” says Wheeler. “Before you know it though, you’re really laughing.

“And if I had an IV in your arm and I was measuring the levels of cortisols and other stress hormones in your blood, I would see them go down dramatically.”

Tina Thonnings prefers a quieter stress relief.

“When I’m walking [through a] labyrinth I don’t even remember what my worries were,” she says.

Unlike mazes, labyrinths have only one path in and one path out. That’s a good environment for peaceful reflection.

“The psychologists say when you walk the labyrinth, your left brain gets engaged in following that path and that leaves your right brain free just for the intuitive to happen,” says Sister Diane Kozlowski of Shepherd’s Corner Labyrinth in Ohio.

If you prefer music to soothe your nerves, special sessions offered around the country can drum away the stress.

“Really it’s simply about releasing what’s inside and getting it out of you in a positive way,” says Robert Friedman, president of Stress relief Solutions. “So it could be done with handheld instruments, with pots and pans, with really anything.”

The best thing about these stress relief ideas? None of them cost a lot of money. And that’s just another thing that should ease your stressed out mind.

Seventy-five percent of Americans report some kind of stress every two weeks and 43 percent say they’ve had adverse health effects as a result.

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