Can laughter build resilience and reduce stress?


Date: 8 May 2018

Can Laughter build resilience and reduce stress?As every entrepreneur knows, running a start up is incredibly easy. Every time you think something will go right, it does. Every deal you think you'll close, you do, and sometimes you can get a sore throat just from having to say no to the many investors queuing up to give you their money. I mean, give us a break right? We don't want your money, contacts or insights, this is easy, it's why everyone does it, so leave us alone!

However, on the off-chance this isn't you (niche audience I know), and you do happen to get stressed (can't really imagine why, but stay with me here), you'll be pleased to know that I've spent my time over the last few years understanding why I, (the minority) did indeed find running a start up stressful.

In my day job, I run a venture backed ecommerce SaaS platform (all the buzzwords, I know, just missing 'AI' and 'Blockchain'), but in my spare time I host a Podcast called Secret Leaders featuring some of the best entrepreneurs in, well, the world really. You'll be pleased to know that they have also found running and growing companies incredibly difficult, and the thing they cite as their 'secret sauce' is their resilience.

Resilience is, as I understand it, the key ingredient in life, let alone entrepreneurship, so I became fascinated to understand how we, mere mortals, can build ours up, and indeed, manage stress levels.

This then led me to the field of 'gelotology'. Fortunately, like all good things 'start up' this was actually pioneered in Stanford University, by Dr William F Fry - so it seems like it was designed just for entrepreneurs!

Gelotology is the study of laughter on the physical and psychological states.

So, what's all this got to do with resilience? Over the past year I've delved deep into this work and discovered that laughter can indeed be used to build resilience and manage stress levels, and I've found a hack that actually works, that I'm delighted to share with you, the Start Up Donut faithful.

When we laugh, we aerobically work the diaphragm releasing muscle tension. This is good for you, but doesn't quite achieve the aforementioned result. In fact, to build resilience, we need to learn to laugh at times of stress, which is incredibly hard to do.

Our natural reaction when stressed is to wallow. Of course. But, if we can drag ourselves away and turn on our favourite comedy, for just 30 minutes, this small trick will train our minds to laugh at tough times, and yes, the science suggests that this will build your resilience, and make you less stressed.

So, my call to arms to you, fellow startupper! Next time you are feeling like it's all too much, take 30 minutes out, and put on something to make you laugh. And let me know how you get on by tweeting me @murraymuzz

Copyright © 2018 Featured post made possible by Dan Murray, co-founder and host of the Secret Leaders podcast. You can watch Dan's TEDx here.

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