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    Boost the Mood & Your Health with Humor

    September 29, 2022

    Taking care of your client is a big responsibility but as you care for people grappling with chronic illnesses and serious diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, there will be room for laughter. 

    Even in the middle of a challenging day, there’s still room for laughter and jokes that will help you bond and understand your client more. 

    Giving yourself permission to notice when funny things happen and encouraging your client to do the same eases tension and makes life more positive for both of you.

    Caregiver humor is helpful to both of you and you shouldn’t feel guilty about laughing when it’s appropriate and of course never at the expense of your client. 

    Improve quality of life by lightening the mood

    The world doesn’t have to constantly be dark and heavy even if your client has health challenges.

    It might sound counter-intuitive, but these are the times when a dose of humor is most needed to get through difficult days.

    Trying to see the funny or positive side of things whenever possible lightens the mood and improves overall well-being.

    It turns out that humor is a very effective way of coping with the difficult emotions that come with caregiving and aging.

    Humor isn’t mean or disrespectful

    One reason why caregivers might resist looking for humor is that they worry that they’ll seem mean or disrespectful.

    In reality, part of being a wonderful caregiver is to let yourself laugh and to encourage your client to laugh too. This can change their mood instantly.

    After all, you’re not laughing at the person you’re caring for, you’re laughing at a funny, ridiculous, or ironic situation that you can both find humorous.

    Best of all are the times when your client is the first to make a joke or when they laugh even harder than you do.

    It is a scientific fact that the chemicals released in the body from laughter can have physical, mental and emotional benefits.

    The Mayo Clinic says laughter can:

    Relieve pain Laughter causes the body to produce its own natural painkillers.

    Improve your mood and decrease depression and anxiety Laughing with others releases endorphins, natural substances that make you feel better and happier. Laughter can lessen depression and anxiety.

    Brings people closer together Laughter binds people together. It’s contagious. Couples who laugh together report having better relationships.

    New perspective Studies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a threat or a challenge. Humor can give us a new perspective and help us view the situation as a challenge and thus less threatening.

    Reduce tension and cortisol A hearty laugh stimulates circulation and muscle relaxation. This helps reduce the physical symptoms of stress. Laughter can decrease the body's production of cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands into the bloodstream at times of stress. High levels of cortisol have been linked to weight gain and memory loss.

    Improve your immune system “Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more--serious illnesses.”(Mayoclinic.org)

    Increase resilience A sense of humor can help one bounce back from adversity. Laughing at our mistakes helps us to recognize making errors is part of life.

    Stimulate many organs Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

    Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response, and it can increase and then decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

    Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.

    Improve your mood. Many people experience depression, sometimes due to chronic illnesses. Laughter can help lessen your stress, depression and anxiety and may make you feel happier. It can also improve your self-esteem.

    There are so many wonderful benefits of having a good laugh with your client you should probably keep a few pleasant 'dad jokes' handy. When was the last time you had a good hearty laugh? What is your favorite joke that you would share with your client? 

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