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31 Days of MS: Laughter Yoga Helps Improve My MS Symptoms

31 Days of MS: Laughter Yoga Helps Improve My MS Symptoms
Photo courtesy of Joanna Hammond

Day 29 of 31

This is Joanna Hammond’s story:

I was diagnosed with MS back in January 2018, and I felt like my world had fallen apart. One of the very best things I did very quickly was to attend my local MS therapy center. The sense of community with other MSers was tremendous, and I came across so many individuals who fight every single day. It made me feel far less alone, and it inspired me to be more… like them.

I loved discovering my awesome MS family, and at the same time, discovering Reiki, one of the therapies on offer at the center. Reiki is an alternative holistic therapy that uses universal energy to aid physical and emotional healing.

My first session was mind-blowing. The pain had alleviated, and mentally, I felt like this massive weight of MS had eased. I loved it so much that I went on to qualify as a Reiki practitioner, and I now use Reiki every day to help me deal with both the physical and emotional challenges of MS.

Reiki started something. It sent me on a whole journey of rediscovering myself and what works for my MS. That’s the key, isn’t it? What works for you. In the midst of my trying out crystals, aromatherapy, going vegan — and ending up a weird pescatarian-plant-based hybrid — and the rest of it, I stumbled across laughter yoga. 

You read that right: laughter yoga. Fortunately, there’s no downward dog to be seen — it’s a combination of laughter and breathing exercises. And it is excellent for boosting the immune system, elevating mood, and making us tackle life’s challenges in a more positive way. It increases brain capacity, and it helps us socially, too. I decided to become a laughter yoga leader.

I’ve always been one for laughing. After my MS diagnosis, I lost the ability to laugh for a long time. The doctors put me on anti-anxiety medication, which just made me numb to everything. When I finally came off them, my favorite thing was laughing again.

After researching the benefits of laughter, I found many studies showing how it helps people with neurological conditions. Although most changes are small, they show promising results in the benefits. Laughter is the best medicine.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or go here to see the full series.

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