With the hustle and bustle of the holidays over, the month of January can often be something of a letdown. That is doubly so for older adults or those with a disability who have trouble getting out during the cold days of a Missouri and Illinois winter. Left untreated, a case of the post-holiday blues can turn into something more serious like depression. One way you can help a loved one overcome the winter blues is with laughter.
The Health Benefits of Laughter
Laughter has a positive effect on the mind, body and spirit. The benefits of laughter include:
- Mental health: Enjoying a good laugh can help reduce anxiety and stress. It can lift your mood and help to improve your perspective on difficult issues and situations. Enjoying a laugh together can help to improve relationships and foster more open communication.
- Physical health: Laughter has been proven to be an ally in healing and in preventative medicine. Research shows it can even help to improve your immune system. For seniors with chronic health conditions or those with a disability that cause them to lead a more sedentary life, laughter can also be an aerobic workout. It is considered to be a low-impact form of exercise.
- Spiritual health: Because laughing helps to reduce stress and anxiety, it helps people feel more peaceful and calm. Both help to strengthen the spirit.
Helping Bring Laughter to Seniors and Those Living with Disabilities
What can you do to help a loved one laugh more during the cold days of winter? Here are a few suggestions:
- Practice Laughter Yoga: Senior centers and other wellness organizations across the country offer Laughter Yoga on a regular basis. It is a low-impact form of exercise that combines the best of yoga with a good laugh! If there isn’t a program near you, The American School Laughter Yoga has a guide you can download for free. 25 Laughter Yoga Exercises to Get You Started shares easy to follow exercises like hula hoop laughter and the confetti handshake.
- Visit BobHope.com: Bob Hope was a legendary comedian popular among this generation of seniors. His website offers viewers the opportunity to read and hear some of his best-loved jokes.
- Spend some time on YouTube: There is a reason cat videos rack up millions of views on YouTube. They are funny! YouTube is loaded with entertaining animal videos ranging from monkeys and dogs to those ever popular cats.
- Invest in DVDs and joke books: Another way to bring laughter into your life and that of your aging loved one is to stock up on classic comedy DVDs and even a few joke books. If your loved one has email, there are several different “Joke of the Day” sites they can subscribe to for free.
- Bring a pet or children to visit: For most of us, children and pets bring instant laughter. Their silly, uninhibited behavior can lighten the darkest of moods.