Why & How You Can Find Humor in Caregiving

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Let’s face it... when we think of caregiving, we often associate it with stress, expending endless amounts of emotional energy and feeling overwhelmed. While these obstacles and sentiments are a natural part of the experience, that doesn’t mean that you can’t also embrace humor as a part of your journey.

Humor does more than simply alleviate difficult moments throughout the day, it also boasts health benefits that can positively impact both you and your loved one. So what are some of the key physical benefits of humor?

  • Immune System: Laughter produces antibodies that help combat viruses. When we get super stressed, the production of antibodies decreases so we’re more likely to fall ill. There’s something to be said about laughter being the best medicine!

  • Reduces Pain: Laughter helps our bodies and our minds to relax. So for someone in chronic pain, the simple act of laughing can function as a coping mechanism & temporary relief from a constant state of being.

  • Decrease Stress: Laughter can activate & relieve your stress response, which ultimately leads to a state of relaxation. Additionally, because you increase your oxygen intake when you laugh, it stimulates the release of endorphins, which also results in a pleasurable feeling.

But what if you don’t think you’re funny enough to provide this sense of relief on a daily basis? Not to fear, humor is actually a learned behavior so developing it may be easier than you assume. Here’s how you can introduce humor into your daily life:

  • Know when NOT to laugh: It may sound counter-productive, but it should be clear that you’re laughing at a situation rather than directly at a person. Laughing at the expense of others isn’t the type of humor you want to introduce; it can break trust in an already sensitive relationship. So understand when it’s appropriate and when you should keep your chuckles to yourself.

  • Weekly Movie: Make a dedicated movie afternoon for you & your loved one. Find comedies from the era of their lives that may not only help to stimulate a laugh, but also jog memories from times past.

  • Exercise Activities: Wait, what? It just so happens that there is something out there called laughter yoga. If you try to incorporate simple stretches into your loved one’s routine and combine it with the powerful impact of laughter yoga, you may both find yourselves in a scenario that provides more giggles than you’d originally imagined.

  • Knock, Knock Jokes: No matter what age you are, who doesn’t appreciate the elementary humor of a knock, knock joke? Jump online or do the old-fashioned thing & head to a bookstore so that you have an arsenal ready for when a joke may be the necessary solution.

From health benefits to being therapeutic, serving as a coping mechanism, turning awkward moments into funny stories, humor is a necessity. How have you used humor in your caregiving journey and what kind of positive impacts have you experienced as a result of embracing laughter?

CareZare is a FREE app for family caregivers to help them manage their care team and ensure the highest level of care for their loved one.