I’m sitting down, pretending my voice is coming from my hand, which is up in the air and shaped like a puppet, when I suddenly burst into raucous, out-of-control laughter. From the bottom of the staircase my mother, concerned at the noise, asks whether I’ve been smoking a joint at 10 in the morning. No, I didn’t wake ‘n’ bake and I am not training to be a ventriloquist. Rather I am in my room, alone, undergoing laughter therapy.
The technique, which comprises laughter exercises, uses humour to relieve pain and stress and is said to improve a person’s sense of wellbeing. You may wonder what could possibly be worse than forced fun and you’re right, it’s a daunting concept. The prospect of someone forcing me to laugh is deeply painful and reminds me of the suffering I’ve endured on first dates when I’ve laughed at someone’s rubbish jokes just because they were good-looking.
As someone with crippling anxiety, my cynical self thought I’d give laughter therapy a go. Pre-lockdown, I saw it on my gym’s schedule. Gymbox described laughter therapy as a “not-so-serious workout that you happily howl your way to an endorphin high through breathing exercises, movement and a whole load of lol.” I signed up out of curiosity but coronavirus thwarted my plans when gyms were ordered to close in March.
Instead I decided to try the therapy at home using YouTube.