These last couple of weeks have asked a lot of us, both mentally and emotionally. COVID-19 has disrupted much of our daily routines, habits, and outlets, and caused us to adapt to what might be our new normal for not just days, but weeks and maybe even months. Now more than ever, stress management is absolutely crucial- and even more so for people with diabetes like me.
If you have diabetes, for the first time you might be noticing the connection between stress and increased blood sugars. Stress can impact our blood sugar both directly and indirectly. Directly, stress hormones are released when certain stressors are presented on the body, like let’s say a fight with a family member. Indirectly, stress can contribute to higher blood sugar numbers if it’s disrupting for example our sleep or triggering emotional eating.
While we can’t ignore what is going on in the world and in our families during this time, it’s an incredible and essential opportunity to tune into our health and practice listening to what our body needs.
Today I’m sharing 3 tools that my diabetes health coaching clients and I are using to manage our stress:
1. Practice Daily “Pod-sitivity” Training
A dose of daily positivity, but with an Omnipod twist! A simple concept that many of us were never taught to connect is that our thoughts trigger our feelings. Based on that truth, the stress or anxiety we’re feeling is simply a response to what we’re saying to ourselves. It’s not necessarily what’s happening around us, or even what we’re hearing. But really, how we’re internalizing it.
During isolation there are a few self-practices we can do in order to train our minds to think more positively, and to reduce the stress that naturally comes up from outside demands or pressure.
Some of my favorite “Pod-sitivity” Training hacks include:
2. Create Playtime to Move the Stagnant Energy
With most of us confined to our homes, we’re finding ourselves sitting for longer periods of time with less overall movement. You might notice that your body is aching more than usual, your insulin resistance is higher (requiring more insulin to keep your numbers in range), or your mind gets fogged up more easily from cabin fever or technology overload. All of this may be improved with some daily movement in a time you carve out for yourself to play.
Play time allows you to get out of your head and into your body. When we move, whether it’s through dance, circuit training, walking, or even light stretching, all the pent-up energy inside of us releases.
This can be a formal 30-minute workout a day if you can prioritize the time, but it can also look like putting on a timer for 5 minutes to do some body weight squats every few hours. Try this out and you’ll feel an immediate shift of any underlying tension completely disperse.
3. Practice Self Awareness + Communication
There are many of us right now whose core needs have been challenged. Whether that’s alone time, space, security, freedom, health, etc. When a core need of ours is not being met, it may cause us to feel stressed, anxious, angry, sad, or irritated.
When I'm feeling a certain way, I really find it helpful to get to the root of what’s causing that feeling to arise. You can get to the root through journaling, meditation, or even just talking it out with a friend, co-worker, or family member.
When you’re able to identify what need isn’t being met, you can change things up in your day to help better meet that need.
For example, if you’re someone who highly values alone time but you’re currently in isolation with 5 other people, it’s no wonder you’re feeling stressed! When you identify this though, you can now vocalize this to yourself and the people around you. You then maybe create a time of day where you go for a long walk alone so you can recharge.
Bonus tool: Try one of my favorite breathing techniques for slowing down your mind and naturally resetting your body’s nervous system. This works wonderfully at any time of day, but especially before bed. Breathe in for the count of 4, hold the breath in for 7 counts, and then exhale for 8 counts. Repeat for 5-10 cycles.
We may not be able to control what’s going on around us, but we can control how we respond and show up for ourselves, and the people around us. Your daily dose of “Pod-sitivity” training, movement, and self-awareness can go a long way for creating stability, reducing stress, and improving blood sugars during these rocky times.
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