Do you have diabetes burnout? If you’re managing diabetes, you know it takes an incredible amount of energy and attention. Always thinking about how to eat to keep your sugars on track, following your doctor’s instructions on taking medicines, and checking blood sugar levels can be stressful and overwhelming. And stress can worsen certain conditions, such as anxiety and high blood pressure, making managing your diabetes even harder.
Now that’s stressful! What can I do?
Did you know that meditation can help? Meditation is one way to relieve stress and feel calm and balanced. Some research suggests that meditation may help people manage high blood pressure, symptoms of heart disease, and other chronic health problems. This is important, because having diabetes also means that you are at higher risk for heart disease. Mindfulness meditation is one of the best-studied types of meditation. It helps you notice what’s going on in your mind and around you without feeling affected by it. There are many other types of meditation , such as guided meditation or mantra meditation, and meditative activities, such as tai chi or yoga.
That’s a lot of choices. What do they all have in common?
In general, meditation involves getting into a comfortable position and focusing your attention on something specific—like a word, an object, or your breath. It involves letting your thoughts come and go without judging them. It can involve breathing or moving your body in a specific way. Meditation can be done anywhere, on your own, or with others. And it’s easy and inexpensive.
Still seems hard. What if I can’t slow my mind?
You might feel that meditation is frustrating or too hard. Your mind may not want to slow down. That’s ok! Don’t force it. Meditation is about allowing an experience, not forcing it to happen. You can do it for any length of time, even if it’s just for a few moments. If it’s too uncomfortable to sit still, try walking meditation. Or try meditating when you first wake up, before your mind is going full speed for the day.
Sounds good. What can I try on my own, now?
Here are a few ways to meditate on your own. You can try these meditation approaches anywhere. It takes just a few minutes. Pick one and try it.
- Breathe deep and slow. Breathe deeply and slowly through your nostrils. Focus on your breathing. If you start thinking of something else, that’s okay. Just slowly focus back on your breathing.
- Mind your body. Take a moment to feel the sensations in different parts of your body. Are you feeling relaxed? Warm? Do you feel any tension? Note how you feel.
- Read a poem. Or listen to relaxing music. Then take a few moments to think about what the poem or music means to you. Write down your thoughts or share them with a friend.
- Take a slow walk. You can walk anywhere. You don’t need a specific destination. Just slow down your pace. Focus on your legs and feet moving. As you lift each foot, say “lift” in your mind. As you move your leg forward, say “move.” When you place your foot on the ground, say “place.”
That seemed to go well. How can I learn more?
You can find meditation programs at your local YMCA or fitness and community centers. Ask around for free or low-cost classes. If you want to continue on your own, audio recordings can guide you through meditation. These are available in libraries, online, or in stores. You can also ask your healthcare provider for recommendations, and be sure to let your provider know if you are starting a meditation routine.
Remember, meditation is not meant to replace your diabetes care. But a few moments of meditation every day can help you reduce stress, and that can make a difference in how you manage your diabetes and take care of your health.
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Mediation, Mayo Clinic
Meditation: What You Need To Know, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), NREPP - SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices
. Whitebird RR, Kreitzer MJ, O’Connor PJ. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Diabetes. Diabetes Spectrum : A Publication of the American Diabetes Association. 2009;22(4):226–230. http://doi.org/10.2337/diaspect.22.4.226