I don’t typically seek out comedies when I’m looking for something to watch on TV. I’m more into mysteries; a good detective story with twists and turns will usually hold me fast. When my office closed 11 weeks ago, and everybody moved to work from home, the learning curve we all experienced was exponential and exhausting! Add to that the emotional toll of continually changing information, empty grocery store shelves, business closures, and rising death tolls, and my brain didn’t want to solve anything it didn’t have to. I find that I need brainless entertainment and laughter to combat the heaviness of the times we’re living through.
Laughter is good for all of us. According to an article in Forbes from 2017, it releases serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical, that elevates your mood much like antidepressants or a brisk walk around the block. It alleviates stress, promotes deeper breathing, and gives you better clarity of thought. Different kinds of laughter activate different areas of the brain, and hearing laughter actually makes your brain work to define whether the laugh is joyous, tickle-motivated, or taunting.
Laughter is also contagious. It connects us socially in ways physical presence and even verbal communication cannot achieve. Simply put, laughing just makes us feel better overall, but many family caregivers don’t find much to laugh about in their situation.
Caregiving brings about significant stress under normal circumstances, and these times are anything but normal for most of us. If you are feeling like you can’t live this way anymore, maybe laughter is exactly what you need! Watch a silly sitcom on TV or read something light and humorous. Lewis Grizzard was an author and humorist from Georgia that wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Among his many published works was one of my favorites: “Don’t Bend Over in the Garden, Granny…You Know Them Taters Got Eyes!” Your librarian can also probably point you in the right direction for books or audiobooks you could listen to while going about your daily tasks.
Recently Chris and I hung a couple of birdfeeders in our backyard to watch the birds. I have greatly enjoyed the chickadees, cardinals, doves, and nuthatches that have become daily visitors, but the squirrels have given me unexpected opportunities to laugh! They perform amazing acrobatic feats as they attempt to win the day over their winged rivals. (Please note, the link to the squirrel obstacle course is NOT our backyard!) The birds remind me of God’s promise in Matthew 6:26 to supply my daily needs just as he feeds the birds, but the squirrels are the comic relief I find myself needing every day. Just a few minutes of real belly laughs can do wonders for your ability to continue onward. When you find reasons to laugh often you might see an improvement in your overall health, and those you care for will also benefit from your levity.
Chris and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about how laughter lightens your day.