Catching up with Karyn

Does Humor Really Make Coping With Cancer Easier?

This morning, I read a powerful piece in the Chicago Tribune Written by Liz Brown, When Funny Business Crosses The Punch Line is a intimate, personal examination of the role humor had in Liz's life as she supported her sister Lynn through her battle with breast cancer.

What's fascinating here is that even though Liz admits she often 'veers toward humor' when coping with life's challenges, there were times - especially after her sister passed away -  where the funny t-shirts and jokes provoked emotions other than amusement.She responded more favorably to some humor than others, and noted that her enjoyment was related in part to who was sharing the humor.  A funny t-shirt worn by a woman who survived breast cancer provoked some smiles; a sign held by a teenaged boy who appeared to be a relatively disinterested party, not so much.

Humor and Healing: Understanding the Power of the Bond

This is a good illustration of how important the bond between individuals becomes when...

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What's So Funny About Invisible Disabilities?

On Thursday, September 27, I'll be proudly participating in the Invisible Disabilities Association and Allsup's Live Chat with the Experts. Join us to learn how humor can make life with a chronic illness or invisible disability a little easier and a whole lot more fun.

Humor and Healing: What The Science Tells Us

Psychoneuroimmunologists are doing amazing research on the ways our bodies and minds interact with each other, and the role our emotional state has on the way we feel.  This is critical information to have if you're dealing with a condition that causes chronic pain and elevates your stress levels. Both chronic pain and high stress levels can contribute in a negative way to high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose levels, and other conditions that can complicate an already challenging health situation.

Humor is an all-natural, safe, proven, and effective way to lower stress levels and reduce the impact of chronic pain upon the body. During the chat, we'll be talking...

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The Neurohumor Notebook

humor is power laughter Sep 17, 2012

In terms of scientific discovery, we're living in one of the most exciting times ever. Researchers are doing more and more each day to uncover the relationship between the human experience and our physical well-being.

There are complex biochemical responses - things changing within our bodies, most particularly our brains - when we're exposed to external stimuli that triggers strong emotional reactions. In other words, when we read a thrilling novel or look at a beautiful painting, something happens inside our brain.  It turns out that that something has a significant impact on how healthy we are.

Ready for some link soup?

This CNN article, What the Brain Draws From: Art and Neuro-Science, takes a long look at how the brain responds to different types of art, and why we may be hard-wired to prefer some patterns to others. Smiling human faces are the most popular type of image in the world - almost everyone loves them. I know I do!

This is Your Brain on Jane Austen looks at the...

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Humor & Healing: Time & Taboos

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." George Bernard Shaw

You know what day it is today.  You know it, despite the fact that it's been 11 years.  You know it, despite the fact that the New York Times and the New York Post aren't treating the anniversary as a front page story this year.  You know what day it is today.

Is it a day to laugh?

One of the questions that comes up often in discussions about therapeutic humor - leveraging the healing power of laughter to help us cope better and more effectively with trauma and stress - is if there are any topics that are off-limits, where laughter is taboo.  It's a question that comes up especially at this time of year, when people are confronted, once again, with the memories of a uniquely painful event.

Humor & Healing: What's The Relationship

Before we talk about whether or not it's appropriate to laugh about the events of a particular day, it...

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What's So Funny About Blood Sugar Control?

For a long time, we've heard that too much sugar can make you larger. But did you know that too much sugar can also make you smaller? Researchers from the Australia National University have found that people who consistently experience high blood sugar levels (although not necessarily high enough to trigger concerns of diabetes or even pre-diabetes) are more likely to experience shrinkage of the hippocampus and amygdala.The health and size of these two brain structures has significant bearing on the development of many cognitive concerns, including Alzheimer's and dementia.

In other words, blood sugar control's not just for diabetics anymore! Keeping your blood sugars in the ideal range (this varies, of course, with individual circumstances, but numbers between 80-100 are good to see!) is great news for anyone who wants to protect their mental health and intellectual agility.

There are many ways to control your blood sugar. Watching your diet and exercising regularly can do great...

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What's So Funny About Diabetes: Go For the Gold

I admit it: I’m an Olympics junkie! Right now, as I’m writing these words, they’re showing Usian Bolt receive the Gold Medal.  He has once again been recognized as the world’s fastest man.  And let us give credit where credit is due: running 100 meters in less than 10 seconds is pretty amazing!

Do you know what else is amazing?  Successfully managing your diabetes, day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year after year. We hear so much about the dedication and determination of Olympic athletes – but hardly a peep about the drive, skill, and strength it takes to take care of yourself when you have diabetes.

Well, that’s enough of that! Today, in honor of the 2012 Olympic Games, I invite you to award yourself with an honorary Gold Medal.  You may not be running 100 meters in 10 seconds – but you’re running a marathon race against your pancreas, and it never ever stops.

The good news is that...

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What's So Funny About Alzheimer's? One for the Caregivers

I think that one of the hardest things for any of us who has cared for a parent or loved one with Alzheimer's Disease is the knowledge that the condition has a genetic component.  It's one thing to be there, helping someone else navigate once-familiar neighborhoods or making sure they've remembered to shut the front door. It's another thing entirely to contemplate needing that type of assistance ourselves. Caring for my Mother made me think about my own future in a way I never really had before.  Perhaps you've experienced the same thing.

How Humor Helps Caregivers: Facing the Future

None of us know the future in advance. We can't peek around tomorrow's corner and see what is going to happen. Every day, it seems, medical science has a new theory on what factors contribute to Alzheimer's.  A week doesn't go by that we're not told about the preventative measures we should be taking to stave off the disease.

The last time I checked, that meant more red wine, more...

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Humor and History: You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

humor is power Jul 16, 2012

If I had to list the top ten questions people ask me, “Where do you find all these funny stories?” would have to be near the top. The ability to identify and enjoy humor is one of the most important skills to develop for people who want to manage their chronic disease more effectively. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to find the funny – especially if you’re willing to take the first step and commit to the search!

Being deliberate about upping the humor quotient in your life sounds counterintuitive, but don’t sweat it.  This isn’t one of those ‘delicious, healthy desserts!” type of things. You can truly enjoy the search for humor – even when you’re deadly serious about it.

History has a long reputation as a source of inspiration and wisdom.  What many people don’t know is that history has some really funny stories of its own to tell. For many years, we’ve been hearing about the tale of Jourdan Anderson,...

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What’s So Funny About Lyme Disease: Humor and Healing

Do you know what really ticks me off? When people don’t take Lyme Disease seriously.  This condition – which can be truly devastating – is often ignored or dismissed as even a possibility until the symptoms become debilitating. By that point, treatment is difficult and expensive – and often, not covered by insurance.

As a nurse, humorist, and professional speaker, I was really glad to see this story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about Carol Fox – also a nurse – who has devoted her life to teaching people about Lyme Disease. Carol uses two powerful tools – humor and art – to present the facts about Lyme Disease to her community.

This is an effective approach for a number of reasons. People are overwhelmed by information today. We’re all wired up, connected to our smartphones and tablet computers every minute of the day. You can’t avoid being inundated by health attention. There are messages about blood pressure and...

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