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Breaking the Cycle of Stress

Practicing mindfulness and other techniques for reducing stress

In last week’s post, we looked at how stress may affect diabetes and shared some tips for recognizing potential stress triggers. In today’s roundup we’ll explore some stress-reduction techniques that may help you live a calmer, more healthful life.

Breaking the Cycle of Stress

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) focuses on meditation and paying attention without judging to help keep stress at a minimum and to help lessen the feelings of diabetes burnout. MBSR teacher Steve Alper believes that maintaining “a sense of compassion … and perspective” may ease the emotional burden of living with diabetes and can encourage healthful decision-making – from meal planning to blood glucose testing.

Further reading: Catherine Price, who lives with type 1 diabetes, explores mindfulness with Steve and two other MBSR advocates, and shares her personal experience of taking an MBSR course in Part One: A Personal Story and Part Two: What I Learned.

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More than 15 million Americans practice the gentle art of yoga. Jacqueline Shahar, who manages the exercise physiology department at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, believes that yoga’s low-impact movements may have an effect on diabetes maintenance as well as alleviating stress. (Be sure and talk with your diabetes care team before starting any fitness routine.)

Further reading: Health reporter Jessica Cassity talks with Jacqueline and another fitness specialist about yoga for people living with diabetes, including finding a class that’s right for you.

Gentle strength building and stress reduction exercise

Like yoga, tai chi offers a low-impact workout that can be aerobic while encouraging mental relaxation. Tai chi’s gentle movements are relatively easy on the body, making it a potentially good stress-reduction activity for people of different levels of fitness, even those who haven’t exercised in a while.

Further reading: Read more about tai chi, including step-by-step instructions for a sample tai chi move, “Separating Clouds.”

Getting out of your diabetes rut

Did you take the quiz we linked to last week: Are You in a Diabetes Rut? If you did, and have concerns that you may not be caring for your health as you should, Certified Diabetes Educator* Janis Roszler offers a number of tips to help to improve your mood and increase energy levels, including talking with a mental health practitioner and other members of your healthcare team. She also suggests ways of finding others who are living with diabetes who may be able to share with you some of their positive experiences.

Further reading: More ideas for getting unstuck from a diabetes rut.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix
Dr. Amy D’Aprix

People who care for those living with diabetes deal with pressures of their own. Author and caregiving specialist Dr. Amy D’Aprix cautions against becoming stuck in “crisis” behavior – acting as a loved one’s “diabetes police” rather than their partner. She encourages caregivers to build mini-breaks into their day. She also suggests remembering how you and your loved one like to spend time together and look for “opportunities to work joy into your life.”

Further reading: Amy’s tips on identifying stress signs and avoiding caregiver burnout.

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Author and d-mom Leighann Calentine believes that many parents of children with type 1 diabetes may share a sense of guilt in addition to worries – guilt about a child’s having diabetes or feeling responsible for daily blood sugar highs and lows. Leighann recommends learning to “look at a number, deal with it” – directly addressing the high or low – “and move on.”

Further reading: Leighann’s insights on taking care of yourself while taking care of your child with diabetes.

How are you managing your stress? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

Dr. Amy D’Aprix received no compensation for her posts on Discuss Diabetes. Leighann Calentine, Jessica Cassity, Catherine Price and Janis Roszler are paid contributors for The DX. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewees and/or contributors, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

*“Certified Diabetes Educator” and “CDE” are certification marks owned and registered by the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE). NCBDE is not affiliated in any way with Sanofi US. NCBDE does not sponsor or endorse any diabetes-related products or services.

© 2015 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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