Too stressed to laugh about it?
No one’s going to argue that the pharmaceutical industry can be a stressful place at the best of times. But these days? Yikes. The proof showed up in droves for Loretta Laroche’s breakfast presentation, “Handling stress in a climate of constant change.” A sold-out crowd of pharma types jammed the Novotel in St-Laurent to laugh and hopefully blow off a little or a lot of stress. The event should have been titled “Laughter is the stress medicine.”
Founder and president of The Humor Potential Inc., a company offering programs and products for life style management, Loretta is an international stress management and humour consultant. Her training sessions and keynote speeches have served such stressed out workplaces as IBM, The New York Times, Fidelity Investments, Microsoft, the U.S. Department of Labor and NASA. The pharma industry awaits her wisdom.
Reader’s Digest has been prescribing laughter for decades, Loretta Laroche simply administers an injection exactly where we need it: in the funny bone. She describes stress as something we use to define ourselves, often competitively: “You think you’re stressed?” And the problem starts with believing the fantasy that we are multi-taskers. Loretta claims it’s a fiasco that people can’t really handle. More significantly, the result is our eroding sense of humour. Not enough laughter. Not enough fun. In fact, we’ve got it all wrong: when you get crazy about line-ups or traffic, you’re not stressed, you’re just inconvenienced. It’s temporary. It’ll pass. Try to enjoy it; turn it into something positive. Getting stressed is not going to change anything—except perhaps your longevity. Well, that’s one way to relieve stress.
Ms. Laroche is a very funny woman. From anecdotes about soiled underwear to personal glimpses into her personal sex life (the wingtips were an interesting touch), she is able to captivate, charm and teach while you are lying on the floor convulsing with laughter. Throughout all the wit and wisdom, the message is that life is all about change and we should quit trying to change that. She asks if anything stays the same. The way you feel. The way you look. No. If you can’t accept that, you’re going to be stressed. And getting stressed about it is not going to change anything it any way.
Perhaps Loretta Laroche’s best lesson came in the form of a group exercise, in which we were all enthusiastic participants. She says whenever you feel stressed, purse your lips, clench your butt, and say, stressfully, “Oh nooooo!” Then she got us to turn to each other and try it. Everyone broke up, proving Ms. Laroche correct: “You can’t clench your butt and laugh at the same time.” The funny woman is a genius.