Karyn Buxman

Catching Up With Karyn

Archive for June, 2012

Summer Fun and Diabetes

School’s out for summer!  I don’t know about you, but summer is one of my favorite seasons.  It’s the one time of year when we seem to have the most time and freedom to do one of the best things possible for diabetes management – having some fun!

Effective diabetes control means making healthy lifestyle choices.  You know the routine – a healthy diet, exercise, and regular blood sugar testing. The trick is making the routine more fun.

Having fun is good for you! It turns out that having a good time, experiencing positive emotions, and especially laughing all have health benefits. You’ll lower your stress levels, improve your blood pressure, and enjoy better blood sugar control.  (That’s only scratching the surface: you can read more about this in What’s So Funny About Diabetes?: A Creative Approach to Coping with Your Disease)

Here are some great ways to add healthy fun to your summertime routine:

  • Dance: Dancing is lots of fun and great exercise. Get up and shake your groove thing! Ballroom dancing, tap dancing, polka dancing, festive folk dancing, line dancing, even Zumba – it doesn’t matter what type of dancing you do as long as you’re having fun. You can dance at home. You can dance when you go out. Try dancing down the aisle at the grocery store – why do you think they play that snazzy music for?
  • Ready, Set, Go!: Remember when you were a little kid and there was nothing more fun than a race? The fun’s still there, waiting for you to join in. Every community has races of some sort, from fun runs to full marathons.  Consider joining in! Another option is to create your own race: grab a friend and park in the furthest spot in the parking lot. Who will make it to the front door first? (It’s probably better for your health if you don’t pick the busiest parking lot in town!)
  • Cell Phone Calisthenics: Give your cell phone to a small child and tell them to hide it somewhere in your house.  (Make sure you make the bathroom off limits for this game!) Then try to find it before that vitally important call goes to voice mail! It’s a workout for your body and your brain!

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What’s So Funny About Diabetes? The Power of Play!

If you’re searching for an easy, effective, all-natural way to manage your diabetes more effectively, I’ve got great news for you.  You’re in for a good time!Researchers in the field of psychoneuroimmunology have been working steadily to prove that experiencing positive emotions leads directly to improved health.  Having fun, it turns out, is good for you.

Specifically interesting for people with diabetes is research that shows enjoying humor can help control glucose spikes after a meal.  Blood sugar control is obviously of high interest. Another factor that impacts our blood sugar is our stress levels: the more stressed out we are, the harder it becomes to control blood sugar levels.

One of the world’s best stress busters is play. We love to play when we’re children, but as we grow up, we stop – fearful, perhaps, that playing makes us seem less serious, less adult, less mature.  To answer that, I’d like to quote from Robert Bellah’s very serious book, Religion in Human Evolution: From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age.

This tradition proposes that humans are a playful species, and we are most fundamentally ourselves when we are not functional. Play is not the antithesis of seriousness but the antithesis of work, of sustaining the general scheme of the everyday in which we spend so much of our time.

In contrast to work’s anxious drudgery of constantly reinforcing social structures and hierarchies, of reestablishing who gets to be a parent and who a child, who the boss and who the employee, and so on, play is what we do when we “log off” from the grid of social structures. Play involves a dialectic of freedom and constraint, or better, freedom within constraint. This is obviously so in games, but equally so in any form of play. The boundaries of play, the delimiting and the defining of the conditions of play, themselves can stand in a kind of dream-like state of critical assessment, a kind of Habermasian reverie. In short, play nourishes us, makes us fully human, equips us for reflective agency and enables us to understand that behind (or above) the routines of the everyday there can be a carnival of an altogether different sort.

Adding play to your daily routine has immediate mental and physical health benefits.  You won’t just feel better – you’ll actually BE better. I can’t promise you a Habermasian reverie but you never know, it could happen! Not sure how to get started? Here’s one tip from What’s So Funny About Diabetes? you can use:

You don’t need to have kids to have toys in your house or office. Get some toys of your own! Maybe it’s a Slinky, or a Rubik’s Cube, or a Koosh Ball, or a plush pancreas. Maybe it’s a water gun or a stress ball that you can squeeze the heck out of. It doesn’t need to have a purpose other than to just bring a smile to your face when you play with it.

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Making Humor a Safe BET

One of my best friends sent me a hysterical joke via email this morning. I read it very first thing this morning. I laughed so hard I almost woke all of the sleeping people in my home up!

What is this joke?

Well, here’s the thing. I’m not going to tell you it. It just wouldn’t be a good idea.  If we were together in person, and I had a better sense of who you are and what might make you laugh, I might share it with you.

But right now, in the cold, vast anonymity of the internet, it’s not a good idea.

Understanding Humor: The Power of Bond

There are some types of humor that – if they’re going to work – depend upon the person telling the joke having a common experience or worldview with the person hearing the joke. This shared set of experiences or perspective provides a type of bond which makes it more likely that the two of you will find the same sort of thing funny.

Other people who don’t have the same experiences or worldview as you may not find your humor funny at all. They may find it upsetting, or even offensive.  My background is in nursing, and over the course of my career, I’ve laughed with my colleagues countless times over things most people don’t find funny at all – including snot, vomit, and lots of bodily fluids!

If you’re worried about whether your humor will be well received in a given situation, make sure to check your bond with the person or people you’re about to tell the joke or funny story to. Do you know them well enough to be sure they’ll find this humor hysterical (and not upsetting!)? Do they have the same experiences or worldview that you do? Then go ahead and give the humor a shot.  There’s no guarantee they’re going to laugh – but the odds are in your favor.

What happens if you don’t know your audience? It’s always better to err on the side of caution in this case.  Luckily, there’s lots of humor you can use that has more universal appeal. Using this humor can help you strengthen and build your relationship with your listener. As you get to know them better, you’ll gain a better sense of who they are and what makes them laugh. Your bond will be stronger!

Here’s a joke to get you started:

Why shouldn’t you write with a broken pencil?

Because it’s pointless!

Have a great day, everybody!

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What’s So Funny About Dementia: The Power of Staying Young

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”

These words from funny man George Burns turn out to contain more than a little health wisdom. It’s the type of health wisdom that’s particularly pertinent if you’re worried about developing Alzheimer’s or Dementia – or if you’re the caregiver for someone who has either one of these debilitating conditions.

According to this article in Alzheimer’s Care Today, there’s been some really exciting research done, focusing on the connection between a positive attitude and the impact of dementia. A group of seniors was dividing into two sets. One set was encouraged to think of themselves as young and energetic; the other group was not. When both groups of seniors were asked to perform some simple tests, the ‘younger’ group outperformed the older – by a significant margin.

Now some of you may be saying, “They needed a study to tell you that?”  Conventional and folk wisdom teaches us that we’re only as old as we feel – and most of us have met that ninety-year old phenom who’s still as sharp as a tack – and can work circles around us younger whippersnappers.

What’s fascinating is that the science is finally catching up with the conventional wisdom.  Psychoneuroimmunology studies the mind-body connection, and how our emotional state can impact our physical health. By being proactive about our emotional state – and this is where the judicious use of humor comes in – we can make a positive impact on our overall wellness.

This is great news for anyone with a chronic health condition. In What’s So Funny About Diabetes?: A Creative Approach to Coping with Your Disease, you’ll find lots of hands on practical information that can make a real impact in your health care.  If you’re dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, or you care for someone who does, you’ll find that many of the techniques in there translate to your situation.

The ability to laugh – and to see the funny that abounds in our environment – plays a pivotal role in the ability to stay young. Staying young means staying healthy. Humor can help make that happen. It’s amazing – and amusing! – every time!

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What’s So Funny About Father’s Day?

Not sure what to get Dad this Father’s Day? The best present you can give is the gift of laughter, according to humor expert, author, and professional speaker, Karyn Buxman.

“Laughter improves our mood and lifts the spirit,” Karyn said, “and it can also make us healthier.  The latest research continues to reveal the many physical and mental health benefits that come from sustained laughter. Humor can help us lower our blood pressure, maintain healthier blood sugar levels, increase circulation, and manage stress more effectively.”

Buxman draws on her health care background as a RN to advocate for the use of humor as a tool in chronic disease management. “Diabetes and heart disease are at epidemic levels in this country, and older men – we’re talking about Dad here! – are being affected every single day.  Either they’re struggling with diabetes or heart disease themselves, or they love someone who is.”

Father’s Day is a great opportunity to increase the amount of health-giving humor in your Dad’s life.  Here are some easy ways to make that happen:

  1. Seek out funny experiences.  A trip to a funny film or comedy club is sure to generate laughs – and memories that last a life time. Spending time together laughing is a positive way to strengthen the bonds between you.
  2. Start a humor collection for your dad. When you’re gift shopping, look for items that will make your Dad laugh.  A book of funny cartoons or a silly coffee mug can be just what Dad needs to provoke a smile.
  3. Are there lots of kids and grandkids? Round them all up and have each one tell their favorite joke. Record the whole thing on video so Dad can watch it again and again.  Be careful with this one: it can easily become a family tradition!

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What’s So Funny About Diabetes: Is SPAM Part of Your Healthy Diet?

If you’re interested in using humor to more effectively manage your diabetes, it’s good to know that you’ll find things to laugh at all around you.  We live in a funny, funny world!

Some people don’t believe me when I say that. They come up to me after performances and tell me that nothing humorous ever happens when they’re in the vicinity. There are no funny headlines in their newspaper. They don’t see any funny billboards during their commute.  Their world, they assure me, is totally devoid of humor.

That’s when I tell them the secret of a truly healthy diet: SPAM.

No, not that SPAM. I’ll be talking about everybody’s favorite processed pork shoulder product and the role it plays in a healthy diet in a future volume of the What’s So Funny About book series, probably in “What’s So Funny About Being a Nutritionist?”.

Today I want to talk about the other kind of SPAM. If you get e-mail, use Facebook, Twitter, or any social media, or have any behinds-the-scenes access to a website or blog, you’ve got SPAM. In quantity. We all do. I just checked my email, and there are 470  SPAM messages in there, just waiting to be deleted.

My email settings dictate that the SPAM folder empties every morning. Times are tough in America right now, but we’re not in a SPAM shortage!

Most of us delete SPAM automatically, without any thought.  But if you find yourself in a place where you need a laugh, take a moment and sneak a peek into your SPAM folder.  You’ll find there the funny, the weird, the strange-but-almost poetic offerings of Superior Investment Opportunities and Purloined Revolutionary Funds.

Here’s the first one I read this morning. Spelling is original, but I’ve highlighted my favorite parts:

waxing is the work on the devil, as is sugaring i cant undtasernd what makes smart women want to coverthemselves in hot adhesive then tear it off possibly mutilating themselves in the process just for a hairless who-ha and legs. the long and short of it is hair removeal is a terrible practice, probably made up by men (hence the recent revenge by women inventing the back sac and crack wax HAHAHAHAHAHAAH)I too am naive in the ways of waxing, i generally shave or use immac or just keep on wearing tights (pantihose)or trousers until i cant stand the heat any more and have to defuzz, then you are left with hairless milk bottle white appengages that you are too embarrassed to show off anyway, until you decide to apply fake tan ..big mistake, unless you pay to get it done properly, or are an expert in beauty therapy, with extreme patience and the nouse to wash you hand afterwards you end up looking like someone has liberally sprayed your legs with cold tea, like you have been wading in paint, espedcially the knees and the palms of your hands.the way i see it beauty schmeuty, im ok and you’ll either like it or not. still it is summer and i ought to do my annual pamper ..p s thanks for the laugh

I’ve made it my goal to work those four phrases into my working vocabulary for the next week or so: they’re sure to liven up any conversation! This type of SPAM has a pivotal role in your Healthy Humor Diet!

Some people really get into SPAM appreciation. Check out these Unintentionally Hilarious SPAM Subject Lines or the SPAM Diary when you need a laugh!

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What’s So Funny About Diabetes: A Farewell To Jim Unger

“We all think we’re so different, and we’re not.” These wise words come from cartoonist Jim Unger, who died earlier today.  You might recognize his Herman strip to the left – the series has run in newspapers for years, and has been a reliable source of genuine (if sometimes bittersweet!) chuckles.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to spend some time with Herman, I urge you to clear some time in the schedule and do so STAT!

Cartoons are a particularly powerful way to increase the amount of humor in your life. The logical part of our mind reacts to the language used in a joke, but to reach the subconscious mind – where the most powerful, primal emotions reside – you need imagery. The best cartoons combine funny language with side-splitting imagery for an intense humor experience.

And make no mistake: Jim Unger’s cartoons are among the best. They really illustrate that humor unites us.  We can all recognize the people in Herman: they’re our friends and neighbors, our colleagues and co-workers.  Unger presents them from just a slightly different angle than we’re used to: his commentary on humanity is both gentle and dry, highlighting the absurdities that surround our everyday life.

When you’re living with a chronic condition like diabetes, you tend to be confronted by more than your fair share of life’s absurdities.  Humor allows us to maintain our emotional equilibrium in the face of the frustrating, silly, or rage inducing moments we encounter. The work of a comedic genius like Jim Unger helps us see that when we can’t do anything else, we can laugh – and then we feel better!

In What’s So Funny About Diabetes?: A Creative Approach to Coping with Your Disease you’ll find ways to benefit from the use of humor in your life. One recommendation is to collect humor – especially funny cartoons! Today, in honor of Jim Unger, I’d like to recognize his Herman strip as one of the funniest and most influential comics of our time. They deserve a place in every humor collection.

Thank you, Jim Unger, for all of the laughs!

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