Mindfulness and Diabetes Management: A Perfect Match

“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.” ~ Louis L’Amour

Mindfulness is putting our full attention on the thoughts, activities, or sensations of the present moment—while giving criticism and judgment a rest.

Being more mindful does not do away with life’s problems, but helps us deal with tasks and difficulties more calmly, including those related to diabetes management.

Present moment awareness of what we think, feel, and do - what is going on in our mind and body - helps us see clearly and more objectively. This makes it easier to avoid auto-responding to situations in unhealthy ways. For instance, instead of automatically reaching for a bag of cookies when hit with a carb-craving, we can mindfully notice and acknowledge the craving, take a moment to weigh options, and maybe decide to munch on a few almonds instead.

Simple Mindfulness Practices

Thankfully, practicing mindfulness is easy, and can often be done as we go about our daily business. Here are a few suggestions:

  • For a minute or two, look at a familiar object with fresh eyes. Suspend what you know about your car keys, a lamp, or your toothbrush, and identify any details you hadn’t noticed before. Or, try looking at familiar objects as if you had never seen or used them before.
  • When in a conversation suspend your thinking mind and give your full attention to what the other person is saying.
  • When driving, be mindful only of what is going on around you. No daydreaming, thinking about the putt you missed, or worry about tomorrow’s business meeting—just awareness of road signs, pedestrians, and traffic.
  • Take a couple minutes to sit quietly and follow your breath. Feel the air move in and out of your nostrils. Notice how your belly swells and falls with each breath cycle, how the lungs expand and contract. If your mind wanders, no biggie, just bring it back to the breath. (This is a great way to unwind after crawling into bed.)
  • The next time you eat grapes, take one and really look at it. Smell the grape and feel its skin; imagine eating it. Now, put the grape in your mouth, note the shape and surface quality. Begin chewing, slowly, aware of how the grape’s texture and taste changes. Notice your impulse to swallow arise, the act of swallowing, and acknowledge any thoughts or feelings you experience.

A Little Practice, A Lot of Benefit

Practicing mindfulness for two to five minutes each day is good, ten minutes a day is better, and 15 to 20 minutes is best. The more you practice the more effortless mindfulness becomes.

Those who incorporate mindfulness into their lifestyle generally experience an improved mood, less worry, or anxiety, and have an increased sense of overall well-being.

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” ~ Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness

Source: Mayo Clinic; Mindfulnet
Photo credit: Harry Koopman

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