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The key to master diabetes lies within the mind. Diabetes requires an enormous amount of mental fortitude when it comes to decision making. Strengthening your mind is like developing a muscle. Like any muscle, if you don't work on it, it will stay weak and eventually atrophy. Without willpower diabetes will always be the one in charge of your decisions and destiny.
Just as important as it is to administer insulin, eat right and exercise, so too is developing your internal strength, willpower, and determination.
As a recently diagnosed person with diabetes, I remember how challenging it was for me to say no to certain foods. What were once everyday daily treats like pop-tarts and cereal were suddenly off-limits, and subsequently, I wanted them even more. I would pine at my brother’s cereal bowl every breakfast while I ate my less-than-exciting eggs.
To make matters worse, as a newly diagnosed diabetic, I could not control the impulse to overeat when I was low. My internal emergency alarm clock for low blood glucose was so loud that I could not separate my desire to eat cereal from the wisdom to know that I had enough. At one point, my mom had to padlock my brother's cereal so I would not eat it all. I lived for years a slave to my cravings on a physical and emotional rollercoaster. It wasn't until I began a regular yoga therapy practice involving breathing and meditation when my life turned around.
Inside the mind, we battle with our impulses, which are profoundly rooted in survival mechanisms. All day long, the mind waivers from distractions, desires, worries, cravings. When you have diabetes, the common internal disturbances are amplified. Externally the mind responds and relates to information received from our senses. For instance, if you see a disagreeable number on your CGM there is an emotional response, which is then internalized, triggering the heart rate to rise, the brain to release stress hormones, increasing insulin resistance, the mind spins, and you are caught up in the inner and outer drama of diabetes.
A primary tool for developing your willpower muscle is something you already have, something you are doing right now…breathing!
By consciously slowing down your breath you can:
In this short video, I’ll walk you through the steps to practice conscious breathing for developing your diabetes willpower muscle.
The steps are as follows:
1) Sit comfortably and close your eyes
2) Shape your breath slowly and continuously without pause
3) Relax at the beginning and end of each inhale and exhale
4) Allow the exhale to lengthen up to twice as long as inhale (purse your lips if you need)
5) Slow breath down as effortlessly as possible and maintain for several minutes
Evan Rachel Soroka