There are few things that are universally true for everyone, but maybe we can all agree that the year 2020 has been a challenge.

This year’s struggles have required many of us to make use of one of our strongest allies in difficult times: a sense of humor. Whether through cackling at funny memes or the newest crazy thing to happen in the news, our ability to laugh together can provide us with joy even in the darkest times.

For caregivers in particular, the mental health benefits of laughter are a necessary antidote to the struggles of watching a loved-one suffer and sometimes leave us. Humor can also aid loved ones, whose health difficulties, may depress even the most resilient minds.

How does humor help mental health? It provides a burst of joy throughout your body. When one is laughing, tension, stress, and anxiety wash away, at least for a few moments. Instantly, your mood improves, and the habit of laughing in the face of challenges can make you more resilient and better able to spring back from life’s knocks.

In addition, for caregivers, laughing with an ill loved one can both strengthen the connection between you and lighten the challenges. If you can find a way to laugh at struggles, problems such as feeding, toiletry, and bathing can become less difficult. A humorous outlook can also reduce the seriousness of conflicts too, which is so important when we are spending so much more time not only caregiving, but simply at home with our families.

So how can you heighten your sense of humor, especially when things are hard:

1) Try on a New Hat

In essence, try to look at your situation from a new perspective. No matter how awful the scenario, if it was happening to characters in a sitcom, you could probably chuckle about it. So take a moment to imagine you are one of those characters and laugh at yourself. You might find that by doing so, you can laugh, de-stress, and tackle your current woe in a better spirit.

2) Think About Your Loved One

You may think that you’re considering your loved one so much already, which is certainly true. However, are you making sure your loved one has a chance to laugh each day? If not, think about how you could provide more of this joy. Maybe read them a daily comic or google some jokes, then try out a few. Get a joke-of-the-day calendar. Even a groaner can provide a moment of happiness for both of you.

3) Focus on Humor

If you make humor a more important part of your life, you will be surprised at the increase in the number of laughs you and the people you love will enjoy each day. So put a silly poster on the wall. Take a goofy picture of you and your loved ones and stick it on the fridge. Choose a funny screensaver, and keep some light-hearted toys on your desk or in the car to remind you to play. Smile at your loved ones as often as you can, as a smile can be the first step to a laugh. Remember how vital humor is to happiness, and make it an important part of your life.

Go easy on yourself. This is supposed to be fun, so if you’re having a hard time finding something to laugh about, that’s okay too. Just keep humor in mind. Even when things are bad, humor can make things better, so look for those funny opportunities that can become giggles to remember. Even something as simple as a misspelled or autocorrected text message can be a chance to experience a moment of laughter. Don’t pass up those opportunities to enjoy life’s missteps. You may be surprised at how your life improves, simply by trying to have a laugh.

Article by Kathi Koll © 2020


  • Kathi Koll

    Founder of The Kathi Koll Foundation: Supporting Family Caregivers in Need

    Kathi Koll is the founder of The Kathi Koll Foundation, dedicated to supporting caregivers in need, and author of the award-winning book Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Caregiving. She also has a podcast Care for Caregivers. Her experience caring for her late husband, Don, after his debilitating stroke, was the inspiration for creating the foundation and writing her memoir. Kathi has been committed to civic, community, and healthcare organizations within and outside the United States for decades. She currently serves on the Hoag Hospital Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute advisory committee and on the Boy Scouts of America Orange County Council Board of Directors. She has previously served on the board of trustees of Casa Cuna, an orphanage in La Paz, Mexico, the boards of UCLA Health Systems and American Ballet Theatre, and as a trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Kathi grew up in Los Angeles where she attended Loyola Marymount University. She lives in Southern California, and is the proud mother of three children and extremely proud grandmother of nine grandchildren, who all lovingly call her KK.