When it comes to caregiving, laughter is the best medicine, literally. According to a study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, laughter may help prevent heart disease. Not only that, laughter may help people maintain their mental health especially those faced with difficult life situations i.e. being a caregiver for a chronically ill, elderly or disabled loved one.
Caregiving is an all-consuming occupation, there are few breaks and the stress that accompanies the position can be overwhelming. Seeing the humor in otherwise difficult situations lessens the tension and makes the job increasingly more rewarding and manageable.
As a caregiver you are consumed with feelings of guilt, fear, hopelessness and helplessness, and it is easy to forget that the loved one you are caring for is experiencing the same emotions. Maintaining a sense of humor and making light of life’s challenges will help you feel better both emotionally and physically. Take the time throughout your day to watch a sitcom or a funny movie or share a funny story. These humor breaks can help protect you from the stress and strain of being a caregiver.
Caregivers should not feel guilty about laughing now and again at unfortunate situations. Laughter is not a sign of disrespect or a lack of love for a family member. While it may be difficult to find a bright spot in the midst of a particularly painful day, relying on your personal history with your loved one to reminisce about a funny incident can be more effective to their care and well-being than some of their pain medicines.
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. Following a good laugh, you relieve the physical tension and stress which has amassed in your body, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter increases the immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies along with decreasing stress hormones.
- Laughter releases endorphins. The body’s natural feel good chemicals are released when you laugh. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Through laughter the functions of blood vessels are improved and blood flow is increased, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Being able to see the joy and humor in your role as a caregiver and embrace the funny side of every situation will aid you in getting through this difficult task. Reveling in humorous moments will also allow you to fully embrace the treasured time you have left with your loved one.