Karyn Buxman

Catching Up With Karyn

Sinclair School of Nursing Awards Karyn Certificate of Merit

I know I sound like Sally Field when I say, “You like me! You really like me!” but I’ve got to tell you, that’s absolutely how I felt when I got the news that my alma mater – the Sinclair School of Nursing, my beloved Mizzou -  has decided to honor me with a Certificate of Merit. Thrilled doesn’t even begin to express my emotional state – it’s awesome, inspiring, and humbling all at once.

Nursing school changed my life. You walk into those classes thinking you know a little something about health care – and then your eyes are opened to all the amazing, amusing, and yes, awe-inspiring things that nurses do every single day.  The lessons I learned while working on my Master’s at Mizzou have served me well, through every day of my nursing career and beyond.

The research I was able to do in those early days, my first tentative explorations into the connection between health and humor, were successful and bore fruit due to the encouragement and support I received at that time. Mizzou’s commitment to holistic patient care, embodying the need to care for our patient’s physical, emotional, and social needs, set a standard in the nursing education field well worthy of emulation.

My time at Mizzou was wonderful, and I can’t wait to go back. In just a few days, I’ll be there to say in person what I’m about to say now: Thank you. Thank you so much!

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5 Fun Things You Can Do To Celebrate National Humor Month

nose glassesApril is National Humor Month – great news if you’re interested in finding health & wealth through laughter! Here are five fun ways to celebrate National Humor Month:

1. Movie Night: Host a Comedy Film Festival in your home, devoted to the movies that make you laugh the most. Here’s a list of the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Films for some classic laugh or for some more recent laughs, check out the top streaming comedies on Netflix.

2. Phone a (Funny!) Friend: Remember the college roommate who could always crack you up? What about the co-worker you loved to laugh with before they moved onto a new job? Keeping your funny friendships alive has serious long term mental and emotional health benefits. A touch base call or email is a simple way to put a smile on both of your faces!

3. Learn Laughter Yoga: Laughter is more than fun – it’s exercise! Laughter yoga combines enjoying humor with basic moves to boost your circulation and energy while lowering your blood pressure and stress levels. Here’s a simple exercise to get you started.

4. Scavenger Hunt! Grab your favorite friends and organize a scavenger hunt. Create a list of funny items (here’s an example list you can use for inspiration!) and see who can gather the most of them within an agreed-up time limit. Reward the winner with a prize of incredible value (may we recommend the stylish glasses shown above?)

5. Take The 24 Hour Challenge: Resolve to find something to laugh about every single day. Level up by sharing what made you laugh with someone else that day. It’s the easiest way to build your Humor Habit. After a month, you’ll be a practiced Humor Appreciator!



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There Will Never Be Another Show Like This!

Mickey Rooney was a short man – 5′ 2″ at his tallest – but he was truly one of the giants of comedy. It is very sad that he’s left us – although from what I hear, his next booking is on one of the best stages EVER – and I’d like to take this moment to talk about the laughter lessons he taught us all.

Mickey Rooney taught us it was okay to laugh at ourselves. He was a very lovable guy – so lovable that 8 different women married him. 7 of those women later divorced him, and Mickey provided the world with a great example of processing pain through laughter.  His jokes about his many marriages included:

“Always get married in the morning. That way if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t wasted the whole day.”

“When I say “I do”, the Justice of the Peace replies, “I know, I know”. I’m the only man in the world whose marriage license reads, “To Whom it May Concern”.

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between laughing at your own behavior and laughing at your self. Mickey walked a fine line, reserving the majority of his humor for his behavior rather than his identity.  “I was a thirteen year old boy,” he once said, “for thirty years!” When you use humor yourself, especially self-depreciating humor, make sure to keep the focus on your behaviors (which can be changed!) rather than your identity (which can’t!) This is good for your emotional well-being in the long run.

Finally, one of America’s funniest men wasn’t afraid to take himself seriously. He considered himself important and worthy of regard, which is something we should all be doing:

“You’ve got to recognize, there will never be another you. It has nothing to do with ego; it happens to be the truth. There will never be another person the same. There’ll never be another you. There’ll never be another me . . . And there’ll never be another show like this!”

Thank you Mickey for some truly wonderful life lessons!

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Humor Resources for Nurses: Cartoons For Caption Contests

Looking for a fun way to boost morale in your health care facility? Caption contests are a great idea. Simply print out one (or more!) of the cartoons below and have your team members come up with their own funny captions. You’ll be astonished what the talented (or twisted!) minds of your nursing staff can come up with.

As an incentive, you can offer Prizes of Incredible Value: I’ve found baked goods and Starbucks work very well indeed. Don’t forget to share the best ones on social media: you can tweet them to me @funnynurse!

Caption Contest 1

Caption Contest 2

Caption Contest 3

Caption Contest 4


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15 Fun Things To Do When You’re Feeling Down

One of the most amazing things about laughter is how profoundly and immediately it alters our mood. Laughter is not only the best medicine, it’s incredibly fast-acting medicine.

That’s why I recommend that people create a Fun List of activities, media, and people that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  When you’re feeling down for whatever reason, drag out the Fun List and choose one of the options on it. Laughter doesn’t solve our problems, but it does make it easier for us to handle those problems.

After speaking at LaughFest (an absolutely awesome event you’ll want to add to your calendar every year!) my new friend Dawn asked me to share what’s on my own personal Fun List. Here you go – these are the 15 fun things that never fail to put a smile on my face:

1.Big Bang Theory (sitcom)

2. David Sedaris Live at Carnegie Hall (CD/MP3)

                                                              3. Reading Sunday comics


                                                              4. Watching funny movies (Top picks: “In & Out” with Kevin Kline, “When Harry Met Sally” and “Steel Magnolias”)


                                                               5. Youtube: Laughing Babies (any and all)


                                                                6. Youtube: Bloopers from my favorite shows (including Doctor Who and Castle)


                                                                 7.  Going to card rack and looking for funny cards to send someone for no reason in particular


                                                                8.  A Journal of my mirthful memories, love to write them up or review as needed


                                                                 9. A phone call to my funny sister, or my funny son


                                                                 10. Laughter Yoga or laughing for no reason


                                                                11. People watching in airports or Board Walk in Pacific Beach (1 mile from my house)


                                                                 12. Visiting a store with fun gadgets or toys like BrookStone, KB Toys, boutiques, gift stores


                                                                 13. Looking for funny memes on Pinterest


                                                                 14. Searching for #humor on Twitter


                                                                  15. Going on a scavenger hunt for things that make me laugh



What’s on your Fun List? If you’d like to share, email them to me at Karyn@KarynBuxman.com. Your list could have 15 items – or it might only have 3! The point is that they should be things that make you smile, laugh, and experience joy. Life is better when we have  more fun. We’re happier, healthier and we get more done. The Fun List is a simple tool to make that happen!

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When Funny Means Money: How LaughFest Helps Grand Rapid’s Bottom Line

Okay, if you’re from a community that has no financial worries, or you’re in charge of economic development in a town that’s already booming, you can skip this post. Everybody else, keep reading! I want to tell you something amazing about the power of humor and how laughter can mean some serious money for your town.

I’ve just come back from speaking at LaughFest, a great event that began as an offshoot of Gilda’s Club (humor for cancer patients) that today  promotes the message of humor as a vital part of emotional  health for all. This event is really designed with something for everyone. Top tier comedians like Lily Tomlin and Jay Leno were there to entertain the crowds, and there were many, many free or low cost events so everyone could participate and have a good time.

An absolutely amazing legion of volunteers makes this event happen, ensuring that performers made it to and from many venues throughout the city. Performances weren’t limited to pricey convention centers. The laughter took place in libraries, museums – a great use of public infrastructure that’s already in place! The local population really benefited from LaughFest – and so too did the legions of people who came to take part in this fun, health-promoting event.

How many people?

Lots of people.

LaughFest has become so popular, in fact, that the festival has brought in more than 4 million dollars over the past 4 years. Now, I’m a nurse, not an economist, but from my point of view, it’s pretty hard to see the local government that wouldn’t appreciate a 4 million dollar boost to the region. The increased demand in lodging, restaurant meals, gas, retail and other sales is great news for the local businesses and the communities that depend on their tax dollars.

When well done, as LaughFest was, laughter can differentiate a region, drive tourist traffic, increase revenues and boost the economic health of a region. In other words, funny means money. I think that’s worth talking about.

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A Special Resource on Nurse Leadership

Nurses are known for their compassion, clinical expertise, and ability to work a 12 hour shift without ever once needing to eat or use the bathroom. Okay, that last bit was a joke, but now I’m being deadly serious. Leadership is one of the most essential nursing skills you can develop. That’s why I’m grateful to Ellice Cooper for creating and sharing this super informative infographic, The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Nurse Leader.

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Nurse Leader features 10 chapters, jam packed with useful, insightful information and valuable resources you can use to assist you on your journey toward a leadership role. It’s free, so I encourage you to check it out and share it with your friends and colleagues who may also be interested in nurse leadership.

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Nurses Week 2014: Moving Forward with Joy

You got a minute? Let’s talk nursing. And I want to talk about nursing as it exists right now – not the almost-magical image of the profession you may have had before you started nursing school; certainly not the world of nursing that the public only knows from Scrubs – don’t you wish it was that fun? – but the actual day-to-day conditions we’re functioning in as we try to help people get and stay healthy.

It’s not easy out there. The hours are long. There are fewer and fewer of us being asked to do more and more with less and less. Sometimes our patients don’t appreciate us. Sometimes our colleagues don’t appreciate us. And when we come home with our scrubs covered in stains of dubious origin and shop-talk stories that would make a dockworker lose his lunch, sometimes our own families don’t appreciate us.

What keeps us hanging in there?

Some people say that answering that question is best accomplished with some serious therapy, but I don’t think that’s the case. I believe that nurses stay in nursing because they know we’re the front line of healthcare. We’re the people who are in the best position, with the best skills and most amazing commitment, to make a real difference in the lives of our patients. And sure, sometimes they don’t appreciate it – but sometimes they really, really do.

Whether it’s saving a life or getting an excruciating splinter out of an uncomfortable location, healthcare couldn’t happen without you!

Knowing this is great – but it’s not enough. We need a little help along the way to stay motivated. It’s hard to maintain our emotional resiliency. I’ve even heard of  nurses abandoning the profession for trades that offer less stress and more glamor: Things like teaching teenagers or becoming an air traffic controller!

But there is an answer designed to keep good nurses in the field: Laughter. The strategic use of humor means more than cracking a few jokes. It’s a systematic way to approach every single aspect of your career. Learning how to identify the lighter side and use humor to bolster up your emotional reserves will make you happier. It will make you healthier. Most important of all, it will make you a better nurse.

Nurses’ Week 2014: The Northeast Tour

This year, I’m planning a special Nurses’ Week tour through the Northeast to teach nurses smart, simple humor strategies they can use to be more effective, happier, healthier nurses. If you’d like to have me appear at your facility, pass this information along to your nurse manager or whoever’s in charge of planning your celebrations. I can’t wait to see – and laugh with!  – you!

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How Humor Can Help Your Heart Health

Steven looked down at his plate. There was some kale there, and a few colorful things his wife assured him were delicious peppers, and a piece of chicken only slightly larger than his business card.

“This,” he asked, “is dinner?”

“Yes,” his wife Stacey replied. “It’s from the heart healthy cookbook your doctor recommended.” For years, Stacey had been cooking up Steven’s favorites: fried fish, fried potatoes, lots of cheeseburgers, fried cheese sticks. But she wanted to keep her hubby around a lot longer, and his heart attack had really scared her. So she was willing to change.

Steven, on the other hand, wasn’t as eager. He looked at his plate and shook his head. “I’m not sure it’s worth it.”

Sound familiar? Making lifestyle changes can be a big part of your heart health routine. Altering what we eat, how much we eat, our levels of physical activity, giving up tobacco – these are all challenging things. Best of all, we’re asked to make these changes at the same time we’re supposed to be keeping our stress levels down!

Any change is uncomfortable, but sometimes it is necessary. It’s easy to stay motivated & focused in the immediate aftermath of a cardiac event – there’s nothing like the echo of those heart monitors beeping in your ears to drown out the cheesecake calling you from the fridge! – but with time, we forget. That’s when it’s easy to become frustrated with the greens & grains and start hankering for a big old cheeseburger with a side of everything, fried.

Giving into those cravings can be bad for your health. It can also be very emotionally upsetting for everyone who’s invested in you getting better when you ‘slip’. Many couples report that they’ve had conflict – even full blown fights – over the need for lifestyle change after a cardiac event.

Humor helps. It really does. Laughter can’t make kale taste like cheeseburgers, but it can alleviate some of the frustration you’re feeling when you’re faced with a plate of rabbit food. It feels good to laugh, even at dumb jokes. Don’t believe me? Try this:

What happens to a frog’s car when it breaks down?

It gets toad away?

Even if you didn’t laugh – if all you did was smile! – enjoying that tiny bit of humor had a powerful impact on your health. Your body relaxes when you laugh. Experiencing positive emotion lowers the blood pressure, improves circulation, and lifts the mood. You can use humor as a motivating reward: if you go to the trainer and do your exercises the way you’re supposed to, treat yourself to a favorite comedy movie. And don’t forget to laugh with the people who love you: not only are you bringing their stress levels down, you’re strengthening the bond you have with them.



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Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum Highlights Value of Humor for Heart Health in New Book

Heart health is a top priority for me. It’s also a big worry for the millions of women out there just like me who know that heart disease is our #1 killer. More than cancer, more than diabetes, more than having your brain explode inside your skull when someone says, “Don’t worry about it, Little Lady – it’s a Man thing!”, heart disease is killing us.

This is not a good thing. But there is good news. We’re not powerless against heart disease. There are things we can do – choices we can make and actions we can perform – to reduce our risk of heart disease. And if we’re at a point where we have heart disease – or we’re precariously on the brink – making the right choices and changes can help us slow the disease’s progression.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum presents a comprehensive overview of the positive changes we could be making to improve our health in her new Heart Book: Every Woman’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy Life. I was particularly happy to see her emphasis on the value of humor for heart health.

“It is also important to never forget to laugh,” Dr. Steinbaum says in a recent Forbes magazine interview. “Laughter improves immune function, lowers blood pressure, enhances mood and decreases stress and depression.” Additionally, laughter is free, portable, always available, and works with everyone’s diet. This makes it an ideal practice to add to your healthy heart routine.

You eat healthy every day; you stay away from cigarettes every day; you exercise every day – now add laughing every day. It’s easier than you might think. Some of you are probably already laughing at the idea that you eat healthy and exercise every day – but honestly, all we can do in this world is our best. Having a positive attitude and laughing often will make it easier to maintain – and perhaps even improve – your heart health.

Want to learn more about adding more humor to your life in order to manage your heart health effectively? Check out What’s So Funny About Heart Disease? It’s a simple, silly guide jam packed with some serious science that will get you laughing – and feeling better! – fast.

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