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Workshop provides laughter and stress relief for the Ho-Ho-Ho Holidays

BY: Kimberly Snickles, Cheektowaga Source | November 19, 2012

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for a local grief counselor, it truly is.

“When we know the health benefits of laughter, we need to incorporate them into our daily lives,” said Nancy Weil, creator of the Laugh Academy. “You don’t need a sense of humor to gain the benefits of laughter.”

As director of grief support at Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga, Weil knows how difficult the holidays can be for people; whether it is losing a loved one, trying to make ends meet to buy gifts, or just feeling overwhelmed with activities, the holidays can bring a world of stress. That is why she developed a special workshop to help people laugh and cope throughout the season.

“There is just so much stress, and people don’t take care of themselves because they are doing, doing doing,” said Weil. “I just want to give them a little bit of rest so they can really enjoy those times during the holidays.”

Weil has been holding her Laugh Academy workshop for more than five years. She received her certification and training with the World Laughter Tour nearly 10 years ago and was simply fascinated by how laughing can change a person’s quality of life. Weil said laughter not only helps those in the grieving process, but it also helps with their health.

“After laughing your muscles aren’t tense, they feel alert and awake because the oxygen comes to your brain,” she said. “Laughter boosts your immune system and reduces stress to help you focus.”

At the workshop, Weil aims to help the individual find out what they really want for the upcoming year; what are the individual’s dreams and goals? These exercises help people find answers to the questions that they probably weren’t thinking about.

She also uses the sound of laughter through movement to gain a forced laugh from the individuals, although the exercise ends up turning into genuine laughter.

“I love running workshops for people, and I love that people actually use these tools. They incorporate them into their daily living and make these changes and become so much healthier,” said Weil.

The “Stress Relief for the Ho-Ho-Ho Holidays” workshop takes place 6:30 to 9 p.m., Friday Dec. 7, St. Joseph’s Hospital, 2605 Harlem Rd. The workshop is $34, and attendees will receive a free copy of Weil’s book, “If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might.”

To register for the event visit or call Weil at 908-9154.

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