Try This Powerful Combination To Reduce Stress And Blood Sugar

Temporary, or short-term stress can help us avoid danger, or motivate us to get something done so the stress subsides.

It’s chronic, or longterm stress we need to avoid since it can damage our body. Though a health hazard for everyone, chronic stress carries extra risk for people with diabetes.

Stress and Diabetes

When we are stressed, the body prepares for action by increasing our levels of various hormones, such as adrenaline, and cortisol. This makes stored energy - fat and glucose - more available to the body’s cells.

If we have type 2 diabetes this stress reaction, called the fight-or-flight response, can raise our blood sugar. That’s because our cells have become less receptive to insulin, the hormone that transports glucose into the cells. If stress-elevated glucose can’t get delivered, it stockpiles in our blood stream.

A Powerful Combination

Two excellent ways of managing stress are walking, and quieting the mind. Walking helps our body burn excess energy, and quieting the mind gives us a break from stress generating thoughts: self-criticism, worrying about the future, and ruminating over the past. Thankfully, because most of us lead busy lives, it’s easy to combine these two activities.

Quieting the mind is done simply by observing whatever is occurring in the present moment - not thinking about it, or judging it - just observing. Some people call this being mindful, or mindfulness.

Walking and being mindful, or walking mindfully, is a powerful way to de-stress, tone the lower body, burn off carbs, and weather permitting, to enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.

Walking Mindfully

Barring mobility issues, walking is something we do easily, and without thinking.
Observing the present is not difficult either, but because our minds easily slip into habitual thought patterns, staying attentive to what’s presently occurring usually takes practice. The only rule for mindful walking then, is to keep bringing our attention back to the present moment after it wanders off.

While walking, we can quiet the mind by:

  • Being attentive to our body’s movements; we might notice our footfalls, the working of our leg muscles, the swinging of our arms, or our lungs expanding and contracting.
  • Observing our surroundings (e.g., trees, clouds, flowers, buildings, people, light and shadow), feeling the air and sun on our skin, listening to birdsong, leaves rustling, cars honking, and to the silence between the sounds./li>
  • Noticing any tension in the body, any emotions that arise, any sense of hunger, thirst, anxiety, sadness, joy, or well-being./li>

“Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

Beside exercising the body and giving our thinking mind a break, walking mindfully can put us in touch with our innate wisdom. Intuitive insights, and solutions to problems can spontaneously bubble-up in the empty space of a quiet mind.

Source: American Diabetes Association
Photo credit: Release the Shutter

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