Laughter: The Magic Ingredient During Championship Season

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

By Maggie Lasto, Swimming World Intern.

Humor is such an important part of our lives, but with all the stress and responsibilities we deal with daily, laughter often takes a backseat. However, it’s in the times of struggle that we can benefit from laughter the most.

Especially during taper time, laughter is the one thing we can’t get enough of. As championship meets approach and seasons near their end, many swimmers find that stress levels and nervousness seem to rise. However, if we start by looking at the facts and then learning how to apply them, we will see that laughter may be the easiest way to impact our swimming and help us reach our personal and team goals.

The facts about laughter

It’s an immediate mood-booster


Photo Courtesy: Kara Sekenski

When we laugh, our brain releases endorphins, which are often called the, “feel good hormones”. The endorphins travel to opioid receptors in the brain that are responsible for emotion and elicit feelings of pleasure. Endorphins create a positive state of mind and boost optimism, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth. This means that when we laugh, we are scientifically happier.

Laughter = Fun


Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

Laughter is a natural, often unconscious human behavior. As babies, we could be heard laughing before we even learned how to speak. This is because laughter is a normal social behavior: a physical reaction our bodies employ to show that we are having a good time. The reason we chose to swim in the first place was because we had fun doing so, and it’s important we don’t lose this aspect of the sport as we continue. As a result, these positive feelings affect our ability to perform. Check out the reasons why by clicking here.

It helps alleviate stress


Photo Courtesy: Pexels

We all experience some level of stress at one point or another. When it comes to swimming, there are many things we may be stressed about. Maybe there’s a time cut you’re on the cusp of making, a tough competitor you have to face, or a championship meet on the line. While everyone has a different opinion of what is stressful, we can all agree that stress doesn’t feel good and surely doesn’t impact our performances for the better. Laughter is the best way to cope with stress, because it helps give us a new perspective, acts as a distraction, causes an emotional release, and reduces the number of stress hormones produced in our brain. When our minds and bodies are at ease, we are given the opportunity to work to our full potential. Simply just taking on a light-hearted perspective and learning to laugh in stressful situations will lead you towards the path of success.

It’s contagious

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

We’ve all seen this happen. Someone starts laughing, and everyone around them breaks out in a smile. Even when we don’t know why people are laughing, we laugh with them. Neuroscientist Sophie Scott says, “We’ve known for some time that when we are talking to someone, we often mirror their behavior, copying the words they use and mimicking their gestures. Now we’ve shown that the same appears to apply to laughter, too – at least at the level of the brain.” Laughter creates a positive environment and a place where people want to be. Just like the domino effect, when one person starts laughing it will impact everyone around them: in this case, for the better.

It helps sustain performance


Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Laughter causes physical reactions to the body that can help improve our ability to perform both in and out of the water. Laughter is shown to alleviate pain, keep the muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes, strengthen the heart, work the lungs, boost the immune system, and even strengthen the core. All of these aspects have a direct application to swimming and are consciously worked on in practice. Laughing is the easiest way to reinforce what we were trained for and can help give us the edge on our opponents.

Laughter Yoga – A team bonding must-try

While we understand that laughter is good for the individual both mentally and physically, it is also very effective in strengthening social bonds. Focusing on team camaraderie is just as important as swimming fast, and with laughter yoga, you can develop both at the same time. Many teams practice all different types of mental and visualization exercises during taper to prepare themselves, so why not add laughter yoga to the list? If you want to “break a chuckle,” check out the video above so you can try it out for yourself!

Nothing is better than a full-on belly laugh. Try to remember a time when you laughed so hard that your stomach began to hurt and your face strained from smiling too much. Do you remember how you felt in this moment? Laughter feels good and does so much good to the body. It is often said that laughter is the best medicine, and it’s true. Laughter has a direct impact on our lives and ability to function, focus and perform in more ways than one.

What keeps you laughing through taper and high-pressure situations?

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Maureen Fahey
Maureen Fahey
5 years ago

Perfect article for this time of year!!! Great job Maggie!!!

5 years ago

Another fantastic article Maggie, so proud.

Jodie House
5 years ago

Mackensey House

Laura Bastin
5 years ago

Tay Thomas

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