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Posted: February 09, 2005

Professional Caregiving

Using Humor for Stress Reduction

The world around us has changed. In our lifetimes, nothing has been as catastrophic on a global basis as the tsunami in Southeast Asia. More lives have been uprooted or lost, more communities destroyed, and the next months will play out the difficult task of rebuilding -- lives, communities and nations.

So why are we looking at humor when such tragedy has engulfed our lives? The stress we experience in our families, work places and communities is minimized by such world changing disasters, but while we have no control over tsunamis, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, we do have control over the influence we can exert on those with whom we come in contact.

Humor is not about laughing at something or someone; it is about laughing with, and in doing so, offering ways to lighten up and keep those small annoyances and bothers in perspective.

A colleague of mine, Peggy Szwabo, PhD, RN, MSW, presented these useful techniques at a workshop on ?Humor and Stress --Techniques to Lighten Up? more than 10 years ago, but they are as fresh and refreshing as any I have come by.

See if you can turn low moods into joyful moments by incorporating some of the following into your home and work life, sharing these with the folks with whom you come in contact, like caregivers and older adults who sometimes get tunnel vision. See what a session on humor does to your next group with these clients/customers/colleagues.

Here we go:

Techniques to Lighten Up

  1. Make a joy journal, listing the gifts that come t you each day, for example, smiles, finding something, a pleasant event, a joke.
  2. List 25 items, people or places that bring you pleasure or amusement by yourself or with others.
  3. Collect cartoons, humorous stories and put them where you will see them frequently.
  4. Give yourself a ?standing ovation.?
  5. Be a child, play with toys, wear a tiara, blow bubbles. (I have always had a toy corner on my desk, for young and old -- and in between ? wind-up, hopping toys, bubbles, beanie babies, slinky, tiny paint set, stress balls, are a good grouping to begin with.)
  6. Take ?healing breaks? -- at least 20 a day (30 seconds, to 1 minute each).
  7. Surround yourself with funny pictures of yourself and your family.
  8. Host a play or humor group (with email this is even easier than in years past).
  9. Have a positive party funded by negative people. Negative remarks throw $1 into a positive pot and use the money every couple of months to do something fun. (We can?t keep negativity out of our lives, but we can turn the inevitable upsets into positives.)
  10. Celebrate the end of each work day with a ritual or ceremony.
  11. Ask for help, support and guidance.
  12. Do not read depressing things at night (hat goes for TV and radio news, too).
  13. Pretend you are someone else.
  14. Pretend you are in control.
  15. Urge those who are annoying you to go sit on a rutabaga.
  16. Place a mark on your body to show where you have ?had it up to.?
  17. Too much to do? Complain loudly (you will get further behind, but you?ll feel better, and?.your party collection will increase).
  18. Whine -- do a group, family or friend whine.
  19. Breathe.
  20. Let go.
  21. Do not sweat the small stuff.
  22. It?s all small stuff.

Enjoy this list. Copy it, distribute it and most importantly, use it!! Try something you would not expect yourself to do. Surprise yourself! Life comes at us, and all we can do is choose how to respond. Give those around you the gift and it might even be returned.


Sylvia Nissenboim is a licensed clinical social worker and who has been working in the field of adult day services in the St. Louis area. She is the director of four adult care and enrichment centers for the American Red Cross and also operates a personal and professional coaching firm, LifeWork Transitions, specializing in caregiving concerns, adult day care management and other aging services, such as virtual coaching and family care giving support groups. She co-authored The Positive Interactions Program, is a national speaker, and has served as president of the Missouri Adult Day Care Association and as a member of the Missouri Governor's Advisory Council on Aging..

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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