Karyn Buxman

Catching Up With Karyn

Archive for February, 2014

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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