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Look on the bright side of life
Published on Thursday, 06 Jan 2011
Dick Yu runs laughter yoga workshops in public parks across Hong Kong.
Photo: David Wong

Employees returning to the office after the Christmas and New Year holidays may feel sulky and tired, unable to resume the hectic pace expected of them.

To get back into the routine, it is important to develop a good work attitude, says Justine Lee Hang-ling, a counsellor with Green Pastures Whole Person Development Centre, a private organisation located on Nathan Road that provides counselling services.

Lee says one way to brighten up the day is to recall happy holiday memories, such as having a wonderful time with one's friends or family. "Close your eyes and immerse yourself in these moments for a minute or two. It can help you feel good," she says.

And since we often get too hyped up or physically exhausted after partying and travelling during the break, we should create a buffer between holiday and work, and take time to wind down and relax.

"It is natural to have a buffer, but have it earlier - maybe a day or two before starting work again," Lee says.

Other tips include creating "stimulants" for work, such as promising to treat yourself to a cup of coffee in the morning and "scheduling", where you ease back into the office gradually by doing small and simple tasks before taking on complicated ones.

Playwright Poon Wai-sum, artistic director of the Prospects Theatre company, says exercise can make one happy. "Through exercising, we may forget about our `self' - a state of mind that is happy and relaxing," he says. To destress, Poon prefers doing tai chi and jogging because they can work for amateurs and experts. "Develop an interest, master the basics, practise it regularly and soon you will be able to enter a relaxing state of mind," he says. "It is like floating on waves."

Another way to brighten up your state of mind is by practising laughter yoga, a simple exercise developed in the 1990s by Indian doctor Madan Kataria, who combined simulated laughter with stretching exercises and yogic breathing techniques.

The exercise, which begins with some stretching, clapping and chanting of "ho-ho, ha-ha-ha" before explosions of mirth, is based on the idea that losing yourself in laughter - even for no apparent reason - could lead to genuine happiness. This is achieved by activating the release of biochemicals, such as endorphins, helping metabolism and boosting the immune system.

Laughter yoga is so simple that everyone can master the technique from free online videos and practise it before work, says certified laughter leader Dick Yu, who runs free, morning workshops in public parks and playgrounds across Hong Kong.

Yu says that when people laugh more, they tend to think positive. As a result, they will see problems as challenges and be resilient.

"Being merry has nothing to do with the environment. You won't be truly happy if your source of comfort comes from the outside," he says. "Real happiness comes from inner satisfaction."


Office bliss

  • Breathing right Get in a comfortable position and take long, deep breaths through the nose and all the way to your stomach.
  • Mental trip Imagine a scene where you feel relaxed. Use all sensory details – what you see, hear, smell, feel and taste.
  • Eat slowly Focus on your food and do not be distracted by work or gossip. This simple technique helps you focus on the here and now.