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Catching up with Karyn

What's So Funny About Diabetes: Keeping Perspective

"Diabetes screening may not lower overall death rate!" the headline screams, reporting the latest insights from a 10-year British study.  This is the type of headline that highlights the value of humor. It's way too easy to get depressed when all the messaging you hear is negative and down-beat. This takes a toll on your emotional health, obviously, and it can be bad news for your physical well-being.

Feelings of despair, hopelessness, fear, and frustration can manifest as cardiac problems. Sustained emotional stress has long been identified as a factor in cardiac disease. As you know, as a person with diabetes, you're already at higher risk for heart disease, and more serious heart disease, than a person who doesn't have diabetes.  (You may have heard the term Diabetic Heart Disease. You can learn more about that here.)

Humor and Healing: Understanding Sarcasm and Dark  Humor

You can use humor to help counter the feelings of depression and anxiety that can arise...

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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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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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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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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...

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