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Laughter Is Good for the Soul: Maintaining Happiness During Tough Times With In-Home Care

By: Integrity Home Care + Hospice

There are several reasons that our patients and clients begin in-home care services with Integrity. Many need a little extra help as they recover from a recent surgery or hospitalization. Some need assistance with everyday tasks on a more permanent basis due to aging and/or disabilities. Others may be facing a terminal diagnosis that requires pain management and companionship care. 

Though all these reasons for seeking Integrity’s in-home care services are different, the life stage at which they occur often bears the commonalities of increased stress and sadness for both the patient and their families, making happiness much harder to maintain.  

Studies have long taught us that chronically high levels of stress can lead to several health problems, leaving damage to both physical and mental well-being in its wake.  Unfortunately, for most of us, stress is an inevitable part of life and its complete elimination is probably not a realistic expectation. 

But what if we began to simply focus on doing the things that naturally reduce the negative effects of stress, allowing us to better maintain happiness throughout difficult stages in life? Could it really be that simple? Maybe! What are those things?

In this blog by Integrity Home Care, we’ll be discussing why laughter is one of those things, and perhaps the easiest and most enjoyable way to introduce happiness and healing back into your life during a particularly stressful time.  

Positive Effects of Laughter

According to the Mayo Clinic, there is plenty of evidence suggesting laughter’s positive effects on both short-term and long-term health.  One such short-term benefit is the temporary revving-up and cooling-down of your body’s stress response during laughter—this complete cycle of increasing, then decreasing your blood pressure and heart rate relieves physical tension and can even keep your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after! 

And how about laughter’s reported ability to boost your immunity? It’s true! Perhaps one of the most significant long-term benefits of laughter is that the positive thoughts associated with a good chuckle have been shown to actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially serious illnesses. 

Many older adults who choose in-home care services suffer from a chronic illness or chronic pain, which can make them more susceptible to depression and elevated anxiety. Laughter has been shown to cause the body to produce natural painkillers, bringing relief from pain. This pain relief contributes to an increased ability to cope with difficult situations and may also lead to decreased levels of depression and anxiety.

While laughter and humor are methods that may not benefit everyone, an unofficial conclusion made with available data on the topic is that they cause virtually no negative side effects and therefore can be used as therapeutic allies to decrease stress, promote healing, and maintain happiness during difficult times that may call for in-home care.  

Try Some Laughter for Your Soul

Ready to give it a try?

From the experts at Laughter Yoga America (yes, laughter yoga is an actual thing), here are a few laughter exercises for you to try on your own, or together with your family and caregivers:

  • Conductor Laughter: Imagine you are a conductor (the kind at an orchestra, not on a train).  Direct an imaginary orchestra with enthusiastic arm movements as you sing any song of your choice in laughter sounds only—e.g.: “ho ho ho” or “ha ha ha”.
  • Ear-Wiggle Laughter: Slowly slide your left hand upward along the left side of your head, continue moving your hand up over your head as you make an extended “aeeee” sound, then laugh as you wiggle your right ear with your left fingers. Do the same on the other side. Repeat a few times.
  • Laughter Medicine: Take some imaginary laughter pills! Pretend that each pill makes you laugh in a unique way for just a few seconds. Try another one as soon as the effects wear off.
  • Laughter Vowels: Let’s learn the laughter vowels! Start with “A” as in “hat”: Aaaaa ha ha ha ha ha.” Next is “E” as in “hen”: Eeeee he he he he he. Next is “I” as in “hiccup”: Iiiii hi hi hi hi hi. Next is “O” as in “Otto”: Ooooo ho ho ho ho ho. Last is “U” as in “soup”: Uuuuu hu hu hu hu hu.

At Integrity Home Care + Hospice, we are passionate about bringing care to you, wherever you call home. If you have questions about any of our services, or just want to find out whether it’s the right time to consider in-home care, reach out to us! Our friendly team is always just a call or an email away.

 

Multiethnic people talking and laughing