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Daily Self-Care Practices!
Mindset influences our bodies, including our diabetes. I’ve found that a daily commitment to self-care practices positively influences my mindset. While many facets of our diabetes care are not optional, managing our mindset is. The investment is time … and the payback is a difference-maker for our life with diabetes.
Is it possible to improve our mindset? Absolutely … our minds can be trained and changed. My daily practices are a result of searching, reading, and experimentation. Now, they help create a positive outlook, manage stress, and make better decisions. Now that’s a type 1 trifecta!
While some research suggests that an improved mindset improves diabetes control, I haven’t experienced that. Instead, I have found that a positive mindset creates an objective thought process, enabling better decision-making.
Below are my five daily self-practices that usually take 15-20 minutes.
The Self-Care Practices
Early in my life with diabetes, 100% of my diabetes care was focused on my body’s defective endocrine system. Only later did I realize my mind and body were connected and influenced each other. Over time, I discovered that stretching helps connect the two. When we stretch, our body releases endorphins that trigger a positive mindset.
The joints in our body are meant to move, and stretching improves flexibility and coordination. The benefits include less body pain, better sleep, and heart health. But for those of us living with type 1, there is more:
- Fewer joint complications: over time, elevated blood sugar levels can result in ‘sticky’ collagen (it helps joints move), causing complications like frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome, and arthritis. Daily stretching may prevent these complications. I’ve experienced a frozen shoulder, and it is painful! It came when I was busy working and stopped stretching. The result was painful rehabilitation, and the range of motion in my right shoulder is still limited.
- Improved blood sugars: stretching also assists blood sugar levels by improving circulation, allowing glucose to enter cells more easily.
My routine includes quad, calf, and hamstring stretches followed by child’s and cobbler’s poses (yoga moves). I do these in the morning, which creates a daily habit. They take 10-15 minutes and help start the day with a positive, grounded mindset.
There are many stretches to choose from, and here’s a link to a Diabetes Care Community post with different types of stretches.
My morning stretches include breathing. While doing a child’s pose, I follow the breath in and out of my body. It’s that simple. If I have pain or tightness, I follow the breath into that part of the body. It works well, especially with tight muscles the day after exercise. By concentrating on breathing, my mind is cleared of cluttered thoughts.
Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Study Nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
Using our senses to absorb what we see, hear, smell, and feel releases us from our perspective and into the world around us. Observing and sensing something makes me more relaxed and grounded. In anxious moments, I try and remember to stop and absorb something. (And that’s hard when my diabetes is acting out).
Although I find nature powerful, other mindful moments include the taste of chocolate, shaving, washing a car, baking, the view of stars, the sound of birds, and the sound of wind moving through trees.
Gratitude moves us from expectation to appreciation. And living with diabetes comes with loads of expectations. Research has found that a consistent gratitude practice lowers anxiety levels while boosting well-being.
My gratitude practice is to find at least one thing I am thankful for each day (many days, there are multiple items). I start each day looking for them and write them in my weekly planner. These entries serve as a way to reflect, especially if I’ve had a bad day.
Faith is a topic in itself (and outside the domain of this blog), but I find prayer a way of connecting with a higher being, our Creator. Like nature, prayer connects me to something greater … a higher truth. When there, I experience peace and feel more connected after deep prayer.
Every night at home before dinner, Kendra and I (and whoever is with us) share two people we are praying for, what we are grateful for, and how we’ve made a difference.
Write It Down!
My stretching, breathing, and prayer goals are 5-7 times a week. I track them in my weekly planner by marking each day the practices are done. I briefly describe the mindfulness and gratitude moments in the planner, too. This creates accountability and a way to reflect.
Life is challenging enough without diabetes. Throw in the Big D, and we make another 180 decisions daily. That’s why many living with diabetes suffer from anxiety, depression, and worries. Lord knows I have.
Caring for your mind is optional but transformative. Its cost is only time … and not much of it. Opening yourself to practices that care for you and your mind is a key to transforming how you view your life and living it with diabetes.