Family Caregivers, Don’t Forget to Laugh!

As a family caregiver, you’re on a constant emotional roller coaster. The stress from each and every day, begins to wear on your emotional state. It’s normal to worry about your loved one, as their health is obviously less than perfect. Between cleaning, appointments, cooking, and everything else, it’s easy to burnout.

We all know that eating right, sleeping enough, and managing stress are all key, but what about laughter? They do say that laughter is the best medicine, but how much truth is there to that notion? Let’s focus on how laughing can improve your well-being, then examine some of the ways to incorporate more belly laughs into your day.

Laugh Away Your Hardships, While Improving Your Health

Think about a good old fashion belly laugh and how it makes you feel. After a good laugh, you often feel revived and energetic, but how can this be? The following benefits will have you laughing up a storm every chance you get:

Lowers Your Blood Pressure

Caregiving can often cause an increase in blood pressure. When you’re consistently under stress, this increases your risk of high blood pressure, which then increases your risk of various health complications. When you laugh, you release endorphins. These feel-good chemicals reduce stress hormones, aiding in your overall blood pressure.

May Prevent Heart Disease

The fact that laughter reduces stress hormones, most certainly plays a role in its ability to protect your heart. A study conducted at the University of Maryland, found that laughter may prevent heart disease. It was reported that individuals with heart disease, were 40% less likely to laugh in a variety of situations.

Why exactly this occurs, is not fully known. However, we do know that mental stress is associated with blood vessel damage. In turn, this causes inflammation and a build-up of cholesterol in one’s arteries. This is what leads to potential heart attacks.

The key findings in this study, were that individuals who suffered from heart disease, were much less likely to find humour in everyday situations. Not only were they more prone to laugh less, but they were also more hostile and angry in comparison. This is believed to have a direct effect on one’s heart health.

Reduces the Effects of Pain

Perhaps one of the most remarkable benefits of laughter, is it’s ability to prevent pain. When someone laughs, they release neuropeptides. This work as pain reducers, increasing one’s threshold for pain. This can help you improve your overall well-being, especially if you’re someone that is often sore and achy.

Laughing: The Perfect Prescription

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to focus on ways to improve your mental and physical state. Instead of feeling down, focus on being more positive. Yes, it is challenging to be a caregiver, there is no doubt about that. However, you can still enjoy your loved one’s company, making the most out of the situation. Here are some tips to get your laughing more:

1. Focus on comedic shows and movies: If it’s a rainy day, then sit down and watch a funny sitcom today. There are so many resources available now, so you can access all kinds of movies and shows for free. Comedy has been shown to have incredible effects on one’s mental and physical state.

2. Don’t be afraid to joke: The fact that your loved one isn’t well, is of course no laughing matter. With that being said, there’s no reason why you cannot joke with one another. It’s important to maintain high spirits, so encourage one another’s sense of humour. If your loved one is in a joking mood, get involved.

3. Get out and mingle: When you go to the store or the park, you’re bound to meet some individuals to chat with. We are social beings, so we’re always looking to interact. Some strangers have the ability to make you laugh and smile, just through the interaction you experience.

Just remember, don’t take life too seriously. If you’re focused on being sad and worried, you will find that life passes you by. You can get so much more out of life when you’re actively seeking a more positive outcome. If you are feeling as though you need some help, do not forget to exhaust your resources.

There are so many services and programs available, which provide caregivers with a well-needed break. For example, a companionship service can allow you and your husband to go on a much needed date. When you allow yourself to have a few short breaks, you will feel refreshed. When you feel refreshed, you’re more prone to approach life in a light-hearted, humours manner. Focus on laughing more, starting today!

photo credit: René Auberjonois via photopin (license)

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