Caregiving is a challenging responsibility that increases stress and contributes to burnout and compassion fatigue. One effective way to combat the negative effects of long-term stress is to add some humor to your days. Smiles and laughter benefit both caregivers and older adults. Here, Homewatch CareGivers shares 5 ways to add laughter to caregiving.
Caring for an older adult can be a draining and frustrating task.
Though chronic medical conditions and physical decline can be very serious and worthy of deep emotions and reflections, a wonderful way to cope with pain or stress is to use humor.
Humor protects against burnout
Caregiving is a demanding, stressful, 24/7 responsibility. It’s no surprise that caregivers are at risk of burnout.
However, there are ways to combat this chronic stress and help protect against potential burnout. One way is to use humor.
Making a conscious effort to find something funny or uplifting each day improves your state of mind and helps you notice the positive things, even on the toughest days.
Laughter boosts health and well-being
Something as simple as smiling or laughing can actually have a direct impact on your physical health, in addition to boosting mental well-being.
Laughing and smiling releases dopamine, which can decrease the stress hormones within our body, and has also been shown to elevate our pain thresholds.
As many of us know, stress can contribute to physical illness, so an increase in dopamine can help protect against the negative health effects of chronic stress.
5 ways to add laughter during caregiving
Here are some simple tips to encourage humor in caregiving to bring the benefits of laughter and joy into each day:
- Use the “Yes, and…” rule (like in improvisational theater or comedy) to keep the conversation moving rather than correcting or questioning someone. It could result in a funny story you create together.
- Tell a joke, literally. If you don’t know any, buy a book of jokes and read a few together each day. This one is silly and fun.
- Poke a little fun at yourself and it might get the giggles started between both of you.
- Remember that you are aging too, not just caring for someone who is older. Putting things in perspective can be relaxing and funny.
- Try a 15 minute laughter yoga video (free).
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Guest contributor: Nicole Brackett is a Licensed Practical Nurse and the Care Delivery and Education Manager for Homewatch CareGivers, a leading care service. Founded in 1980, Homewatch CareGivers delivers a variety of person-directed, professional at-home services including elder care, care for individuals with developmental and physical conditions, after-surgery care and help for those living with dementia. For more information, visit homewatchcaregivers.com
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