“Go out and play,” is a common request made of children and regarded as a worthwhile activity since it is generally accepted that children need to play. Play allows them to express their conscious and
unconscious experiences regarding their feelings about their life and things that are going on around
them. Yet as adults, we are no longer expected nor encouraged to play. For an adult, play is seen as an
activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious activity with practical purpose.
At Spectrum Improv, we contend that in a society filled with stress-related diseases, it is imperative that healthy forms of play like improv be incorporated into people's lives and taken seriously as a means for psychological and emotional well-being. At SI we value play as a means to connect with others socially enabling a happier and higher quality of life.
An inevitable and natural byproduct of any neurodiverse improv class is laughter. The value of laughter should not be underestimated as a life-enhancing activity on multiple levels which, according to the Mayo Clinic, does the following:
•Stimulates many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
•Activates and relieves your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
•Soothes tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
•Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
•Relieves pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
•Increases personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.
•Improves your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier.
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” - Victor Borge