5 Ways You Can Manage Diabetes Mindfully

Apr 12, 2022

All of us with T1D have been there.

You hear your CGM alarm go off...again. Annoyed, you look at your phone and see your blood sugar at 253mg/dl with one arrow up. Your mind races. You think about how much you hate diabetes. You beat yourself up for having pizza for lunch. You worry that your high blood sugar will get in the way of the presentation you have to give later today. Your mind is all over the place, but one place it isn’t is in the present moment.

Mindfulness can help.

What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying attention to your experience in the present moment, without judgment. Diabetes has a sneaky way of pulling you away from the present moment. The problem is you can’t do much but think, worry, or beat yourself up if your thoughts drift to the past or the future. You can only live your life and manage diabetes in the present moment.

T1D is hard, and when you get worked up about it, T1D can get even more challenging. Managing diabetes mindfully can help you stay present and take on the tough stuff without letting your thoughts make things worse.

Here are five ways you can manage T1D mindfully

When you check your blood sugar: Before you glance at your CGM, take a minute to notice both your thoughts and your emotions. Are you nervous, calm, or frustrated? Then look at your reading and pay attention to your reaction when you see the number. Are you surprised? Content? Proud? Frustrated? There is no right or wrong way to feel when you check your blood sugar and see your number. Observe your experience from a place of curiosity without judgment.

When your blood sugar is high: Pay attention to what your body feels like when your blood sugar is high. Try to describe the sensations you feel like you are a neutral observer. Do you have dry mouth? Do you feel heavy? Name these sensations without judging. Then scan your body and notice where you feel high blood sugar in different sections of your body. Are there parts of your body that feel different from others? Are any of your sensations surprising to you?

When you get a rude comment: Unfortunately, dealing with rude comments is sometimes just a part of living with diabetes. Next time someone makes a comment about your diabetes, observe your reaction. What emotions come up? Do you have a physical response? Do you have the urge to say something snarky back? Just pay attention to whatever you experience without judging it.

When you change your CGM or pump site: Stay in the present moment when changing your site. Notice what you are feeling before the site change? Are you indifferent? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Pay attention to your thoughts as you get your supplies ready. Does anything surprising or unexpected come up? Finally, notice the sensation as you insert the new site. Do you feel any pain? Is your skin warm or cold? Smooth or sticky? 

When you eat: Before you eat, observe your thoughts about the food. Are you looking forward to eating it? Are you feeling guilty about eating it? Are you worried about what the food will do to your blood sugar? Notice the different sensations you experience as you eat. How does the food feel on your lips, your tongue, as you swallow? What does your food taste like? What is the temperature? The texture? How spicy is it? Simply pay attention to the different aspects of your experience as you eat your meal.

As you work on mindful diabetes management, remember the goal isn’t to change your thoughts and feelings about diabetes but to notice them. Whatever you experience, being mindful with diabetes gives you the space to observe your thoughts and emotions without getting wrapped up in them.

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