“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive.” –Bill Cosby
Since I have declared July to be the month that caregivers declare freedom from the belief that self-care is selfish. I will be providing a practical tip to promote your self-care each week this month.
Laughter truly can be one of the best forms of medicine. I know that at some of the most stressful times during my caregiving journey, I turned to humor to release my stress. One such memory I have that still makes me smile is that my father tried all kinds of foods he traditionally disliked when he had vascular dementia. He also discovered some new food combinations to enjoy. On one particular day, I entered the kitchen to discover that he made himself a chicken salad sandwich using chocolate chip cookies for slices of bread. He had taken a few bites and seemed to be enjoying it. Instead of freaking out and trying to get him to stop eating it, I asked him how how sandwich was. He replied with a smile and exclaimed, “terrific!” He ate every last bite which was great since he was refusing to eat a lot of meals. I then found myself laughing and sharing with my father how fascinating his discovery was. We both had a wonderful laugh together.
That night when speaking with one of my close friends on the phone, I declared that I was running the dementia diner – a place where new food combinations were being discovered. We both had a great laugh and it was such a stress reliever. As my Dad attempted more strange food combos over his remaining days until he could eat no longer, I would share my dementia diner dish of the day with this close friend. Although a majority of the time, I was breaking inside while watching my father’s decline, my moments of laughter definitely helped me to survive.
I have a few great resources to share to give you information about the benefits and power of laughter.
1. An article about the benefits of laughter in Psychology Today.
2. The Mayo Clinic released an article titled, “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke.”
Practice Tip: Laugh Out Loud at least once per day! It’s good for the caregiver’s soul and can be contagious for your loved one.
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