WESTFIELD-For area residents who would welcome a little laughter into their hectic holiday season, a free Laughter Wellness Program will be offered at the Westfield Athenaeum on Dec. 18.
The program, “Laugh for the Health of it: Creating Healthy Lifestyles Through Laughter,” will be presented from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the Lang Auditorium by Trevor Smith, B.A., M.A., M.Ed, CLL, who is CEO and founder of Blue Sky Consulting of Springfield.
Smith noted “laughter wellness” is an innovative and versatile discipline within the health and wellness field. With more than 15 years of experience as a therapeutic recreation specialist and mental health practitioner, Smith has designed and conducted workshops that promote personal and professional development in a variety of occupational and community settings.
Through a series of “action-oriented activities,” participants will learn tools to reduce stress, increase energy, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and build positive, healthy social connections.
“The structured, systematic, experiential and highly interactive program for all ages creates enjoyment and camaraderie,” said Smith.
“The holidays are a very stressful and sometimes sad time of the year for a lot of people,” said Becky Blackburn, public services librarian. “We are encouraging every one of any age or background to come check it out.”
The program is part of the ongoing speaker series sponsored by the Athenaeum.
“We are trying to bring a wide array of programs to our speaker series,” said Blackburn. “The last two months have been active and outdoorsy with hiking the Appalachian Trail, and wildlife trail photography. December seems like a good time to go inward a bit.”
As part of Smith’s program, participants will engage in a “laughter routine,” designed to make anyone feel better.
“The routine works without using jokes or comedy to stimulate the laughter,” said Smith. “Current research states that when people laugh and lighten up, there is a significant increase in positive attitudes and behaviors. Stress is a serious issue in our society where stress-related illnesses are frequent terms of discussion.”
Smith noted that anxiety and stress are two of the leading mental health challenges facing people today.
“This program addresses these issues by teaching self-care strategies for healthy behaviors during our daily lives,” he said.
As a certified laughter leader (CLL), and laughter wellness facilitator, Smith promises his program is led in a fun, supportive and non-judgmental environment.
“The program is meant to create strategies to keep people happy, healthy and productive,” he said.
For more information, visit www.westath.org or call (413) 568-7833, ext. 111.