Staying the Caregiving Course Using Humor

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by Jaime Christmas |

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I look for humor in every situation. Humor can be lifesaving in times of despair. U.S. Congregational minister Henry Ward Beecher said, “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

As a caregiver to a husband who has hereditary ATTR amyloidosis, our journey has been full of challenges. Since Aubrey’s diagnosis in 2013, I’ve been hit by the realization that my ability to be lighthearted seems to have slowly dissipated, and a melancholy disposition has taken its place.

One day, I couldn’t recall when I’d last had a hearty laugh. The kind that keeps rolling in waves and is difficult to stop. That uncontrollable giggle that resonates in every fiber of my being. From that moment on, I decided I had to mindfully fight against turning into Ebenezer Scrooge — someone who only sees misery and doom at every turn. I needed humor.

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Why is humor important? The Mayo Clinic highlights the short- and long-term benefits of having a good sense of humor, and why laughter is indeed the best medicine. Laughter produces a physical reaction in our body, which releases endorphins, relieves stress, and soothes tension. Laughter can also help us cope with difficult situations, improve our immune system, lift our mood, and even relieve pain.

The compounded health benefits of seeing the lighter side of life are far-reaching, but unfortunately, they’re often overlooked as a potential tool for fighting depression. It is such a simple practice that we can all turn to when faced with a barrage of problems in life. Laughter is a coping mechanism I use during tough times.

How and where can we look for laughter? I maintain a sense of ease by not taking myself too seriously and being aware of what I expose myself to. I must teach myself to find humor in the everyday.

Just as we set aside time to eat and nourish our bodies, so should we set aside time each day to laugh. Some phones have reminder apps that can be programmed to send jokes, providing a chuckle. Basically, it’s important to find things that will make you laugh. A funny movie, a comedy relief show, or a comic are all fun things that may do us good.

I also love hanging out with people who bring joy into my life. My kids and a few of my friends never fail to bring me cheer because they are naturally funny.

Finally, pets are the best go-to for a chuckle. My dog Dakota always makes me smile. The simple act of smiling automatically warms up my soul.

So today, as you read this, I encourage you to smile. Smiling is the best warmup to laughing.

Humor and laughter | FAP News Today | Jaime's dog Dakota looks up at her wearing pink bunny ears.

Dakota never fails to make me smile. (Photo by Jaime Christmas)

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Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

Comments

Pamela Thompson avatar

Pamela Thompson

Fantastic article Jaime! We got a new puppy and my goal is to outlive her. She has already brought lots of laughter into our household! Cheers, Pam in Whistler Canada

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Jaime Christmas avatar

Jaime Christmas

Hello Pam!! Aren’t dogs a precious gift to humans? So good to hear from you and thank you for the kind feedback. Keep smiling and give a pat to the puppy for me :)

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