For caregivers, laughter truly can be the best medicine. Life for a caregiver is often overwhelming with a seemingly endless list of domestic chores, trips to the doctor, meal preparation and so much more. But caregiver laughter can ease the burden.
Most people know that laughter is good for them just because of how they feel when they laugh. But those looking for more proof will find that science also recommends a good chuckle, giggle or belly laugh.
Experts in the field also know the benefits of caregiver laughter, too. Linda Burhans, host of Connecting Caregivers Radio, offers support for caregivers with “love, laughter and lessons learned.” She highly recommends laughter for caregivers.
“I cannot tell you how important it is to laugh in your caregiving experience,” Burhans said in a video posted on her site. “Think about some ways that you can give relief during your caregiving experience. We’re only human. It’s not easy.”
The Importance of Caregiver Laughter
For stressed out caregivers who feel more like crying most days rather than laughing, the advice to find a way to get a good chuckle as often as possible might seem impossible to follow. But there are ways to get caregiver laughter into your life if you make the time for it.
For example, Burhan said two women in a caregivers support group she led both cared for their mothers. They decided to get together every week for what they called “Ha Ha Wednesday.” Each week, the two women and their mothers went to lunch together, then they would go to one of their homes and watch “I Love Lucy.”
“They laugh all day on Wednesday. The Moms start laughing on Tuesday getting ready for Wednesday, and then they have the residual effect on Thursday,” said Burhans. The weekly get-together impacted not just the Moms, but the caregivers, too.
The Science of Laughter
Science backs up what Burhans and other caregivers have discovered: Laughter really does make you feel better.
The Mayo Clinic offers a long list of laughter’s benefits. They include a strong intake of oxygen-rich air that benefits the lungs, stimulates the heart, and increases the release of endorphins in the brain. It also activates and relieves your stress response, leaving you with a “good, relaxed feeling.” Who doesn’t want that?
Also, laughter soothes tension and aids with muscle relaxation, which may in turn reduce any physical symptoms of stress.
And that’s just the short-term benefits. In the long run, consistently laughing can strengthen the immune system, reduce blood pressure, improve blood flow and even provide relief from pain. Laughter can also strengthen self-esteem and help lessen anxiety and depression. Even scientists back the idea that caregiver laughter is one of the best medicines available. It’s also free. All you need are good friends. And maybe a bit of “I Love Lucy.”