Why carers feel there’s nothing to laugh about

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Recently, I was asked to run a laughter yoga session for a small group of carers.

The women had been whisked away for 48-hours respite to the Gold Coast, all expenses paid.

After 30 minutes of laughter exercises on the beach at Surfers Paradise, I asked them to lie on their backs, eyes closed and push away thoughts of anything but their breath.  I then guided them through deep meditative relaxation, willing their worries to melt into the sand supporting their bodies.  When the time came to open their eyes and sit up, I was in the company of a very different group of women.  Their faces were relaxed and glowing, their eyes were brighter, their voices lighter.

20160728_102319I felt so privileged to witness that change. Oh to be able to bottle it up so that they could take a ‘whiff’ on demand!

Of course it’s easy to say ‘practise every day’. The reality is most carers will not because of the overwhelming number of things in a day they must attend to before seeing to their own needs.

It’s Carers Week in Australia (16-22 October). In Queensland today 484,400 people will provide unpaid care and support to a family member or friend with a disability, mental health problem, terminal illness, chronic medical condition or frailty.  

 I’ve just read Carers Australia Queensland’s Quality of Life Audit report and it is sobering stuff: a litany of failings unchanged in the past 6 years – inflexible working conditions, limited access to flexible education and training and information about ‘how to be’ a carer, lack of respite options. Then there’s the fear of what is next around the corner; and exhaustion. All is not well for the carers who are responsible for 74% of all the care and support provided in Australia, supplementing stretched funded services. 

One in 11 Australians will become unpaid carers of a loved one at some point: child, spouse, parent, extended family member or close friend. 

mum-hgc

Heather Joy with her mum Joy December 2014

I have been one. I well remember what it was like being ‘on call’ 24/7 and feeling totally out of my depth as, over 3 years, Mum became sicker and sicker (and more stubborn and fractious the more frail she became).

At least I had laughter yoga in my life before the grimmest times came. I wasn’t Mary Poppins looking at everything positively positively all the time—not by a long shot: ask my kids and husband!—but I coped better by being able to laugh when I felt there was nothing to laugh about.  In those minutes of chuckles, I was healthier and happier and ready to keep going.

 

Did you know that as a certified laughter yoga teacher I run training workshops on demand as well as laughter yoga sessions tailored to client needs?  I also present at conferences — both workshops and icebreaker sessions introducing laughter yoga to participants. This might be just what your carers need… Let’s talk.

 

(c) Heather Joy aka Heather Grant-Campbell, 2016

 

 

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It has been scientifically proven that 20 minutes of laughter reaps real physiological benefits.

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"Heather Joy’s laughter yoga session was the most fun I’ve had at work in a long time! It was great to do it as a group – a team building exercise in itself. I definitely got a dose of therapy and endorphins, a workout for my lungs, and came away with a new tool to de-stress at the end of a day."

- Suzie Christiansen, CEO, Anglicare Central Queensland, October 2016

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