Karyn Buxman

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Laughter is Better than Trans-Fats!

Well, this morning, the FDA has come out and announced that – even though it seems inconceivable that such a thing could be true! – foods rich in trans-fats, which constitute a good portion of the most awesome food groups – fast and fried – might not, in fact, be good for you. Eliminating these foods from our collective food supply is said to be a lifesaving move, one that will have a positive impact on the rates of heart disease and hypertension we’re seeing across the nation.

But I have to say, there may be a problem with this plan. Those trans-fat loaded foods are many people’s favorite comfort foods. When we’re down, when we’re having a rough day, it’s not inconceivable that there’s comfort to be found in the familiar flavors of a cheeseburger and fries. If that’s no longer an option, what can you do to lift your spirits instead?

Laughter is an ideal alternative: it’s completely calorie (and trans-fat!) free. Sure, it won’t help to laugh when you’re hungry. You’ll still want to grab a bite to eat now and then to assuage the hunger pains. But when you’re seeking a way to improve your mood after a really rotten day, laughter will do it. Laughter also improves the circulation and lowers blood pressure: when you’re done laughing, you won’t just feel better, you’ll actually be a little healthier.

Don’t feel bad if you’re frustrated by not being able to enjoy your favorite foods anymore. This lion feels your pain!

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Using Humor to Manage Your Diabetes: Building Laughter into Your Routine

Every day, Amanda goes for a walk near her San Diego home. The thirty-two year old has Type 2 diabetes, and regular exercise helps her keep healthy. “I can’t say I go anywhere in particular,” she said. “I just head for the beach and start walking.” Along the way, she listens to audiobooks. “Only funny stuff,” Amanda’s quick to point out. “Right now, I’m listening to David Sedaris’ latest book. Walking makes me feel good, laughing makes me feel good, so I figured why not combine the two?”

Amanda may be on to something. Humor has a vital role to play in helping people with diabetes live happier, healthier lives. Laughing regularly improves the mood and has been found to contribute toward a more positive mindset. There are also very real, very physical benefits to laughter. Enjoying humor lowers the blood pressure, improves circulation, and can even help minimizing post-meal blood sugar spikes.

Laughing regularly is an easy, fun, free way to improve your health. But sometimes those laughs don’t just happen. What can you do to find the funny?
How to Laugh More: Build Enjoying Humor into Your Daily Routine

A key to making sure you laugh every day is to make sure your schedule includes exposure to funny things.  We all have busy schedules, so multi-tasking can be a very useful skill here. Amanda listens to funny audiobooks while she walks; you could do the same thing during your own workout, morning commute, or whenever you’re stuck waiting.

It’s okay to be deliberate in the search for humor.Set up a designated email for funny joke-of-the-day emails, and make sure to check it once a day. Do you love Twitter? Create a custom list of people (Tweeple?) who make you laugh, and read it during your lunch break.

What’s your favorite way to add humor to your day?


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What’s So Funny About Oncology Nursing?

Some of my favorite people in the world are oncology nurses. If you ever want to meet a group of smart, skilled, and passionate health care providers, look to the oncology nurses. They’re there day in and day out on the front lines, providing exceptional care and essential emotional support, to people with cancer. And if you ever want to meet a group of nurses who know the value of a well-timed laugh – oncology nurses can help you with that as well.

Faced with the stark and bleak side of health care, oncology nurses have a finely tuned appreciation for the silly and bizarre. To this day, I remember the reaction of the oncology nurse who was treating my college-aged son David when he introduced one of his best buds as Tonto.

“If he’s Tonto,” the nurse asked Adam, “then who are you?”

With a great big grin, my son rubbed his balding head and announced, “I’m his Chemo-sabi!”

Sometimes those laughs come exactly when you need them. Other times, you need to be proactive in your search for humor. It’s essential that you do. Nurses who laugh are happier nurses. Nurses who laugh are healthier nurses. And perhaps most importantly of all, nurses who laugh are better nurses.

Humor and Healing: How Laughter Helps Oncology Nurses

Humor has many physical and emotional health benefits. One of the most important, for the oncology nurse, is that the research has shown that the regular experience of laughter promotes emotional resiliency.

If there’s anything an oncology nurse needs, it’s emotional resiliency…well, that and a vending machine that dispenses free chocolate and red wine!

In the course of our lifetimes, the entire field of oncology nursing has changed so dramatically. Once upon a time, receiving a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. People were even afraid to say the word “Cancer”. Today, things are different. We’re not where we need to be yet – but we have reached the point where many of our patients live with cancer, managing the disease as a chronic condition.

Nurses have played a huge role in bringing this change about. Jean Watson and her colleagues led the profession into embracing a holistic, whole-patient model. There’s a world of difference between being an ‘interesting tumor’ and ‘a person with an interesting tumor’ – and it has been nurses who have most clearly articulated this difference and made it matter.

Hats off to you! It’s been a long, hard road to bring the field to this point. Emotional resiliency is the quality that enables the oncology nurse to bounce back after a tough day, to hang in there providing hope and compassion when they’re needed the most.

As an oncology nurse, you’ve seen first hand the impact your patient’s emotional state can have on their treatment experience and outcome. You can harness that same power for your own benefit. Learn how in What’s So Funny About… Nursing?: A Creative Approach to Celebrating Your Profession, you’ll find:

All the benefits of humor for nurses
The most current psychoneuroimmunological research on the body-mind connection
Easy to implement strategies you can use to build your humor habit
Humor by and for nurses – designed to put a smile on your face!

A great gift for the oncology nurse in your life – especially if you ARE the oncology nurse in your life!

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Need a Great Gift for Nurse’s Week?

Nurses who laugh are happier people.

Nurses who laugh are healthier people.

Nurses who laugh are better nurses.

But what’s so funny about nursing?

This year, Nurse’s Week is May 6-12.  Just in the nick of time, Karyn Buxman has released the latest volume in the side-splitting What’s So Funny book series: What’s So Funny About… Nursing?: A Creative Approach to Celebrating Your Profession.

Here’s an excerpt, discussing how humor can make you healthier:

When was the last time you heard that watching TV could actually make you healthier?! Another way you
can really give your heart a boost is by playing the ICU Game: Any time you see an error on a medical TV show (Nurse Jackie and Grey’s Anatomy are GREAT for this!) that would result in the patient spending the rest of his short, short life in the ICU, get up and do 25 jumping jacks. You could have the heart of an Olympian in less than one season!

Fun, funny, and packed with practical information to bring the healing power of humor into everyday nursing, What’s So Funny About… Nursing?: A Creative Approach to Celebrating Your Profession is now available at a special discount price for Nurse’s Week. Order now and save! It’s a great gift for the nurses in your life – and don’t forget to include yourself!


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Karyn’s On The January Jones Show!

If you have heart disease or you love someone who does, make sure you check out the January Jones Show. That’s where you’ll find me -Karyn Buxman, RN, neurohumorist, and author of What’s So Funny About… Heart Disease?: A Creative Approach to Coping with Your Condition– sharing the latest research on humor and healing for the person who has heart disease.

Did you know that laughing for half an hour a day can reduce your bad cholesterol by up to 66%? When you have heart disease, cholesterol control is job number one. Enjoying humor doesn’t replace conventional treatment or prescription medications – but it’s a fun, free and effective way to make successfully managing your heart disease easier.

Listen to the January Jones interview here! If you like what you hear, don’t forget to tell your friends about it on Facebook and Twitter.  Sharing laughter is one way we can improve everybody’s heart health!

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What’s So Funny About OR Nursing?

 photo WSFA_ORNursing_0712_front_zps405af001.jpgWe’d been called in for an emergency bowel obstruction. Our scrub nurse had some bad gas – don’t ever trust the cafeteria’s tacos! In the  middle of the procedure, the surgeon starts freaking out. “I nicked the bowel! Don’t you smell that?”  He ran the bowel over and over before he was finally satisfied that it was intact, and he closed. Afterward, when I talked to the scrub nurse about it, she said, “What was I going to do – tell him I farted?!”

OR Nurses: this bookis for you! I count the years I spent as an OR nurse as some of the finest (and funniest!) of my career. Talk about the tight bond between nurses! I learned true caring, compassion, and grace-under-pressure from my colleagues behind those double doors.

There were also lots of laughs – and thank goodness for that. Laughter provides the emotional resiliency we need to operate at the top of our game in the high-stress, high-pressure OR environment.  Nurses who laugh regularly enjoy considerable physical and mental health benefits. They also tend to have stronger, more positive relationships with their colleagues than their more serious counterparts, and report higher levels of career satisfaction.

Now Available: What’s So Funny About… OR Nursing?: A Creative Approach to Celebrating Your Profession

In my new book, In my new book, What’s So Funny About… OR Nursing?: A Creative Approach to Celebrating Your Profession you’ll find the latest psychoneuroimmunological research that explains why this is true, as well as practical, easy to implement strategies to add more humor to  your life. Who doesn’t want to have more fun on an everyday basis?

Using funny stories and real-life examples from health care’s front lines, What’s So Funny About… OR Nursing?teaches you how to recognize, incorporate, and benefit from the presence of humor in your practice. It’s a fun read that will make a real difference in your everyday work life. Best of all, it’s available on Amazon right now!

So don’t delay: this is your chance to be the first nurse in your hospital to have a copy!

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Humor and Healing: Laughing To Maintain Perspective

Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs. Christopher Morley

Whether you’re dealing with a chronic health condition like diabetes or heart disease, are a caregiver for someone with those conditions, or are just trying to make it through life with less stress and more fun, humor helps. At times when we feel stressed out or overwhelmed (an exceptional set of circumstances I like to call a Typical Friday Afternoon!) it can be difficult to maintain a realistic set of proportion about what’s going on in our lives. All of our problems and challenges become enlarged: all of a sudden, the fact that you’ve lost your phone charger is as catastrophic an event as you’ve ever experienced.

Rationally, you know that’s not true. Losing a phone charger probably doesn’t even  rate on your personal list of the 101 Most Terrible Things That Have Happened. It might not even be in the top 1,001! But when we’re highly stressed and overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget that. Our emotional resources are already so overtaxed that one more stressor is enough to tip us right over the edge. If you’ve ever found yourself sobbing over a lost phone charger the way you’d cry during Bambi, you know what I’m talking about.

What do you do in those situations?

Step one is to try and recognize the moment where things get out of whack. Practicing mindfulness and awareness of our emotional state is an essential technique in the holistic management of chronic illness. When you feel your emotions escalating way more than they need to, given the circumstances (and YOU are the only valid judge of this criteria!) it’s time to stop what you are doing and take a five minute humor break.

During that five minutes, do something that makes you laugh – or at least smile.  Check out your favorite funny websites. Call a humor hotline. Practice some laughter yoga techniques. Spend five minutes enjoying humor. You’ll feel better!

At the end of those five minutes, your phone charger will still be lost – but you’ll find that you’re much better prepared to deal with searching for it. Laughter restores and promotes emotional balance, in part by creating physical changes within our bodies. The act of laughing lowers blood pressure, increases circulation, and even helps minimize blood sugar spikes. Enjoying humor is a great, all-natural way to bring perspective back into your day and put your body back in balance.

PS: Still looking for your phone charger? Try your jacket pocket. That’s almost always where I find mine! What’s the strangest place you’ve ever found your phone charger?


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A Day in the Life of Diabetes

It’s time to show the world what Diabetes looks like! I’m really excited about the American Diabetes Association’s project, A Day in the Life of Diabetes, to demonstrate the increasing impact diabetes has on our families and communities nationwide.  Successfully managing diabetes can be a herculean task, making what might seem like an otherwise ordinary life rather extraordinary.

You are invitedto share a personal image, on the Association’s Facebook page, representing what “A Day in the Life of Diabetes” means to them. The image can be a picture of themselves, someone they care about, or otherwise represent how the disease impacts their lives.  The image will then make up a larger mosaic image that will embody the message of “A Day in the Life of Diabetes.”

To encourage individuals to share photos of A Day in the Life of Diabetes on Facebook, CVS/pharmacy® will donate $1 to the American Diabetes Association for every photo/image uploaded, up to $25,000.

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What’s So Funny About Diabetes: How Humor Helps Caregivers

I was on my way to speak to a group of diabetes educators at a regional hospital when I overheard two interns talking in the hallway. They were watching an elderly gentleman, who was moving slowly down the all, and trying to figure out exactly what the man’s complaint might be.

“I’ll be you $5 he’s had a hemorrhoidectomy,” one intern said.

The other intern did not agree. “No way. He’s suffering from arthritis.”

They both approached the man to inquire.

“Why are you moving so slowly, Sir?” asked one intern.

The old man replied, “My slippers are too large.”

Diabetes and the Family Caregiver

Being a caregiver – whether you’re a health care professional or a family member or friend – can be challenging sometimes.   We like to think we know what’s going on. After all, we work hard about being a good caregiver. This is especially true for people who care for someone who has diabetes. Over the years, I’ve spoken with family caregivers who could put the average endocrinologist to shame when it comes to diabetes knowledge – especially when their loved one is concerned! These folks knew everything there was to know about how their loved one managed their diabetes. They could predict blood sugar spikes to the minute. No meters for these folks – they could tell with a single glance if their loved one was about to crash.

But diabetes is a tricky disease. You can do everything right, and have your blood sugar numbers come out all wrong. The medication routine that had been working wonderfully for years can suddenly stop working entirely. Bad things happen – and there’s really nothing that the family caregiver can do about it.

How Humor Helps Caregivers

As a caregiver, it’s important to understand that feelings of frustration and stress are incredibly normal. You may feel tension building up inside you around testing time, for example. So  much hinges on your loved one’s sugars staying in the appropriate range. When everything turns out to be okay, some of that tension melts away – but not all of it. We can accumulate stress and tension, building up layers of fear and anxiety. This isn’t good for your physical or mental health.

Laughter, particularly hearty sustained laughter, dissipates that tension. The stress level drops. The old residue of fear and anxiety is forgotten in the face of mirth and amusement.Take the time to laugh every day.  It’s the best thing you can do to help maintain the emotional equilibrium so central to being a great caregiver.


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