When we think about caring for an ill or aging loved one, humor and laughter are not words that typically come to mind. Rather, we think about responsibility, stress and sacrifice. We generally approach caregiver health with serious self-care practices that reflect the serious nature of our caregiving role. But, something as simple and natural as humor can offer amazing health benefits as well.
Humor and laughter are actually powerful tools for remaining positive within a caregiving role. Most often, the stress caregivers experience comes from the worry and anxiety they feel over parts of life they can’t control. Embracing laughable moments that emerge throughout the day can allow caregivers to let go of things they have no control over and enjoy life’s pleasant moments.
Although you probably won’t see it written on any prescription, humor has numerous benefits for our physical and mental health. According to caregiver expert and author Sherri Snelling, multiple scientific studies have proven the benefits of humor and laughter since the late 70s, when laughter was first recognized as a legitimate form of self-healing. Key benefits include:
In addition to the science, anyone who’s shared a humorous moment with a friend understands that laughing just feels good! It releases chemicals that create feelings of pleasure, which helps us view our current situation from a more positive perspective. Laughing may be the key to relaxing just enough to get through a difficult caregiving moment and find new solutions to a problem.
Now that we know how great laughter is for our bodies and minds, it’s easy to see how humor applies to healthy caregiving. Providing benefits for both the caregiver and their loved one, humor can be a useful coping mechanism during tense or difficult care situations.
Expressing emotions is a healthy part of life. Just as you can feel better if you cry, you can also feel better if you laugh. In her article, “Finding a Reason to Laugh,” Amber Bauer, a staff member for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, describes how laughter can help family and friends relate to a loved one with a chronic condition by easing the tension of not knowing what to say. If a humorous comment can ease this tension, then you are free to do your job – offer support, encouragement and companionship – the best you can.
Laughing together builds strong connections between people with which relationships can develop and grow. With regards to family caregivers, these relationships may already be quite strong, but a healthy dose of humor now and then can make it easier to relate to your loved one when it’s time for more serious conversations. On a daily basis, laughter can lead to meaningful moments for you and your loved one, distracting you from the stress, pain and hardships that may take up too much of your attention.
Embrace humorous situations whenever they happen, and try to add moments of humor to your caregiving routine to lighten your loved one’s mood. Here are a few suggestions to try:
If you are struggling to find relief from caregiver stress and anxiety, try to embrace more humorous moments during your day. It’s okay to laugh. Sometimes your loved one’s condition may seem so overwhelming that you think it’s not right to enjoy life or take time to escape. But when you and your loved one laugh together, you’re allowing both of you to enjoy life to it’s fullest. A day without laughter isn’t much fun.
If you could use some support as you care for your loved one, or are looking for more ideas on how to bring more fun into your caregiving routine, call Tuscan Gardens®. We’d be happy to help you brainstorm fun activities to make your loved one’s day even brighter.
At Tuscan Gardens, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Florida, Tuscan Gardens was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.