Being a caregiver for someone can be stressful, especially if you are the primary caregiver to someone who needs full time assistance. Although there are many ways to practice self-care, one idea that’s often overlooked is the ability to rely on your sense of humor to help you get through the challenges in your day. Laughter can even have health benefits. According to a study cited on the WebMD site, one minute of hearty laughter is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing on a rowing machine!
Here are a few ideas to help you take advantage of humor, even if you don’t feel especially “funny” at the moment.
Use a humorous prayer. Nancy is the full time caregiver of her husband who has Parkinson’s disease. She discovered a little prayer which helps her when she is tired and overwhelmed and feels like screaming. Nancy recites this prayer with a humorous twist:
God, grant me a vacation to make bearable what I can’t change,
a friend to make it funny, and the wisdom to never get my knickers in a knot because it solves nothing and makes me walk funny!
Nancy says, “It may not work for everyone, but it makes me smile and laugh, and it changes my attitude.”
Watch funny movies. When the person you are caring for hears you laugh or sees you smile, he or she just might feel happier too.
Read a light-hearted book, magazine or website. Take a break and escape to another world for a few minutes. Anything that makes you smile is worth the time.
Learn to appreciate the absurd. Jennifer tells us about a time when her mother-in-law was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Her mother-in-law was experiencing hair loss, so Jennifer helped her try on various wigs and turbans. “At some point, we went from feeling very serious to very silly,” recalls Jennifer. “My mother-in-law was quite ill and feeling very discouraged. But after seeing herself trying on all the different head gear, she started to laugh. We all got into the act– my father in law, my husband (her son) and I started to wear the wigs and turbans, parading around the room. The laughter was good for all of us. It helped us realize that we could laugh, even during a difficult time.”
Even though caring for someone who is suffering isn’t at all funny, your sense of humor can see you through. So, try to find ways to add smiles and humor to your caregiving days.