Mental Wellness

Sometimes Zoom is Enough

In our household Halloween and Día de los Muertos are two of our biggest holidays. So this past weekend we celebrated, Covid style, with two Zoom meetings. A friend we’ve known for at least 15 years hosted a Halloween party online. We all dressed as sayings. I cut out a paper heart with my Tuesday candidates and attached it to my upper arm. (wearing my heart on my sleeve) Another friend created a papier mache head and attached it to her shoulders (two heads are better than one). Two friends had just married in a tiny Covid era ceremony and we celebrated their wedding with stories, poetry and song. We all talked, joked and laughed for 90 minutes. Gathered together in virtual form, we felt the warmth of togetherness.

Sunday, we invited our friends to our 16th annual Día de los Muertos party. The theme was dress as someone you admire who passed on this year. There were no fewer than three notorious RBGs, Ruth Ginsburg with her black judges’ robe, lacy collar and insightful gaze. We told stories about our favorite costumes as children or adults. One friend had dressed as a robot for three years in a row as a child, carefully cutting arm holes in boxes. But when he arrived at the neighbors doors to trick or treat, people thought he was a television… Another friend grew up on a farm, so going around the block was a four mile trip with only six houses! She pulled her younger brother and sister in a wagon the whole way. I remembered that when I was in sixth grade, I dressed as a rabbit from a McCall’s pattern my mom sewed together. I brought a pillow case and walked at least 2 miles hitting around 70 houses for candy. My mom told me I couldn’t keep all of it, and volunteered to help me out with the overflow. We discovered jokes and laughter communicate electronically. : )

Connection can happen online. How lucky we are to live in this age.

Happy Manic Monday! –Rebecca

Mental Wellness

7 Ways to Fill Your Prescription for Laughter

I’m feeling happier, thanks to the sun. If days had remained cloudy, what could I have done? I’ve read that in India, people have started Laughter Clubs. They get together and chuckle enough that with time they are laughing really hard. Laughter releases stress and can make us live happier, healthier lives. I like the idea of the Club, but could I laugh on cue? As a kid, my first sleepover at our place, my mom had all 6 girls lie down in a circle, each person’s head on another’s stomach to get us to laugh. We thought it was silly, but we tried it. Sure enough, within five minutes we were cackling uproariously! It would go in a wave around the circle.

I wanted to recreate that experience, in way that fits with Zoom parties. Online I found a series of activities to generate mirth in an ebook called 505 Best of Laughter Exercises. Here are 7 of my favorites that can be tried in person or online:

  1. Best Enthusiastic Fake Laugh: Each person enthusiastically performs their best fake laugh.
  2. 30 Seconds of Laughter: Laugh non-stop for 30 seconds.
  3. Happy Memories Chuckle: Close your eyes, take several deep breaths, and search your happy memories from the past. When you think of one, laugh as if you were reliving it.
  4. Breath Holding Technique: Lift your arms above your head, inhaling deeply. Hold your breath as you stretch your spine bringing your arms slightly behind your head. When you can’t hold your breath any longer, burst out laughing. Holding your breath builds up pressure in the lungs and facilitates laughter. You can choose to do this exercise with your eyes open or closed.
  5. Laughter Hiccups: Begin to laugh, punctuated with a hiccup every few seconds.
  6. Namaste Laughter (aka Indian Greeting Laughter): Laugh in the Namaste position; palms together near the heart, bow slightly to each other maintaining eye contact while laughing. No speech necessary. The word Namaste means “the light in me bows to the light in you.”
  7. Omnidirectional Laughter: After the six activities above, laugh as you turn 360 degrees in a circle.

What makes you laugh? Puns? Stand up comedians? Far Side cartoons? Tell us your secrets in getting yourself to chuckle or belly laugh.

It’s Manic Monday and that’s good news! Thanks for reading and commenting. -Rebecca