Catching up with Karyn

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!

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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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...
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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...

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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...

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