Your emotional well-being probably isn’t something you ever discuss with your health care team. You probably talk to them about test results, diet, exercise, medication. You know, the medical stuff.
To me, the beauty of being in a peer support group like the DiabetesSisters PODS is to help with the emotional stuff. Yes, we talk about the medical side of things (especially which doctors we like and which we don’t - wink, wink). But mostly we talk about things that are stressing us out. Maybe we know what we should be eating, but we just can’t seem to do it. Maybe we have a partner who isn’t terribly supportive. (Don't worry honey, I’m not talking about you!) Maybe we’re dealing with a sick parent or child. Maybe we can’t figure out this insulin dosing stuff. Maybe we’re frustrated because our BGs are high one day and lower the next when we ate exactly the same thing and took our meds at exactly the same time. Maybe we’re tired of having to fight with our insurance company about coverage. Maybe we’re just sick of cooking two meals every night because our kids won’t eat “healthy” food.
When you have diabetes, there’s a lot to stress about.
The question is what do you do when you get stressed?
Do you eat “bad” food? (Guilty.) Do you skip exercise? (Guilty.) Do you blob in front of the TV? (Guilty.) Do you drink a glass of wine (or three)? (Hey, there’s something I don’t do!)
What if, instead, you focused that stress in a positive direction? What if you called up a girlfriend you hadn’t seen in ages and scheduled a “play date” for the two of you? What if you went to a meditation class? What if you enjoyed a nice hot bath? What if you read a good book? What if you simply took a walk around the block?
I’ve been taking my 6-year-old niece to a yoga class for the last couple of weeks. The teacher, who is great with kids, started off one class by asking about feelings. “What kinds of feelings do you guys have sometimes? Do you ever feel angry?” After lots of nodding, she asked what they did when they got mad. “Do you yell and scream?” A couple of the kids were brave enough to admit that, sometimes, they did indeed yell and scream when they were angry. The teacher then asked what they could do instead. “Draw a picture!” “Play with my dog!” “Watch a funny movie!”
We can learn a lot about emotional wellness from 6-year-olds.