It was Wednesday afternoon and the Laughter Yoga Session I lead had come to an end. As is my custom, I ask each person to share how they felt or what did they experience during the Laughter Yoga Session. One participant; I’ll call her Carol; responded,
“All I know is that when I got off the airplane today and came to the hospital, I had a huge weight on my shoulders.” “Now it’s gone, the weight has come off my shoulders.”
The “weight on her shoulders” is one of the aspects of what is called, “Caregiver Burnout.” When people begin caring for their loved ones while they are being treated for cancer, they never imagined the toll it can take on them. Caregiver burnout is a medical condition wherein a caregiver experiences mental, physical, psychological and emotional exhaustion. It can also come with feelings of depression. Stress and anxiety may also appear as a simple case of fatigue and weariness.
A 30 - minute Laughter Yoga Session was all it took to assist Carol to experience physical, emotional, and psychological relief from her “Caregiver Burnout.”
Laughter Yoga has the power to change your mood within minutes by releasing certain chemicals from your brain called endorphins. If your mood is good, you feel good within and will remain cheerful through out the day. A Laughter Yoga Session will help you will laugh more in real life. You’ll have a smiling face, a positive outlook towards life and fewer negative thoughts.
What about you?
Are you experiencing “Caregiver Burnout” due to the care you give to your loved one with cancer?
Go take a Laughter Yoga Session.
Who knows, you might find a “weight off your shoulders” as well.
- Stephen Findley, M.Div,.BBC, CLYT
As a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, I offer Laughter Yoga Sessions to patients and caregivers at the Integrative Medical Center at a hospital on a regular basis for patients and caregivers. I would like to share a story about how Laughter Yoga began to impact the lives of patients and caregivers who attend the Laughter Yoga sessions.
One day, when I arrived to lead a Laughter Yoga Session, there was a group of about 5 or 6 people waiting. Some were patients and a few were caregivers. After an initial introduction and a brief history of Laughter Yoga, I went over the five basic ground rules and began to lead the group through a series of rhythmic clapping, simulated laughter exercises, and gentle stretching and breathing exercises.
The group began to hum along with playful laughter and infectious humor. Smiles, laughter, and levity began to bubble up and overflow within the group and around the room in a wave of pure laughter energy. After about 20 minutes of play, I calmed the group down and lead them into a Laughter Meditation. Eyes are close, breathing is slowed and soon, snickers, giggles, and laughter erupt throughout the room.
I ended the session with a series of positive affirmations. The group energy is high, lively, people in attendance report that they feel refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvenated. All in all, it’s been a good Laughter Yoga session. I dismiss the group and everyone begins to collect their belongings as it is time to leave the building.
As I make my way back to the main hospital, a married couple and their friend tag along beside me. We chit chat and they continue to talk about how much they enjoyed the Laughter Yoga Session. Upon entering the main hospital, their friend; a woman who appeared to be in her late fifties; turns to me and says, “Stephen, you know, my husband died a year ago from cancer and I have not laughed since he died.” I stop to give her my full attention. She continues, “If fact, I did not know if I could laugh again.”
Now; mind you; she had just spent the last 30 minutes “laughing her head” off during a Laughter Yoga Session.
I just looked at her and said, “Well, you’ve still got it.”
She smiled and turned away to follow her friends.
I made my way back to my office to prepare to go home for the day.
As I made my way to my office, I thought to myself, “Yep, she’s still got it.”
“She’s still got her Laughter.”
“May we all rediscover “Our Joy and our Laughter’” no matter what our circumstances.
- Stephen Findley, M.Div., BCC, CLYT