Effect of Laughter Exercises on Emotional Well-Being of Community Care Workers for HIV affected patients and their families
This study was conducted by the psychology department at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. It aimed to understand the emotional experiences of community care workers taking care of HIV-affected families and to explore their experiences of aerobic laughter therapy (Laughter Yoga method) consisting of clapping, breathing and playful laughter exercises.
Given the challenges in their work environment, most care workers reported intense sadness and physical symptoms of stress such as severe headaches, loss of appetite, fatigue and inability to focus on their work, which led to experienced high levels of emotional exhaustion.
Here is how laughter sessions led to more positive emotions, improved social relationships and improved ways of coping as well as lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
Positive coping: Care workers reported that laughter helped them to get through difficult situations in the work place, as well as in their personal lives. It relieved their tension and they reported experiencing a variety of positive emotions such as joy, happiness, relief and hope. Laughter even changed the way they interpreted situations. It worked as an effective tool to help them cope more positively with any negative emotion or incident.
Expression of emotions: Participants learnt to express and release suppressed emotions that they had ignored for a long time, which gave them a sense of relief.
Improved Interpersonal relationships: Laughter therapy also functioned as a binding factor in relationships. The care workers felt that laughing in a group strengthened their work relationships and improved their relationships with friends and family as well. It awakened them to want to be more sociable and interactive with others. Positive social interactions served to reinforce their positive emotions, thereby generating a feeling of wellness.
Improvement in care work: Most care workers realized that they have to change themselves before they can expect others to change. With daily laughter, they developed more positive feelings, were more hopeful and made intimate contact with the children in their care. Some even used laughter in their contact with the children to bring hope in difficult situations.
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