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Diabetes and stress: Tips for present moment awareness

We're currently in the midst of the holiday season. Your mind may be filled with all kinds of tasks you need to accomplish — running to the store, picking up the dry cleaning, ordering gifts, grocery shopping, planning parties, cleaning house, baking, finishing projects, manipulating schedules, and the list goes on.

Retail businesses are pushing for an earlier start to the holiday shopping season, from "Black Friday" to "Brown Thursday," or Thanksgiving day. Some businesses are pushing even further to include "White Wednesday" — the day before Thanksgiving Day. If these black, brown and white shopping days help the economy, I'm all for it. But it's so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the season.

The emotional and physical stresses of the holidays and life can be hard on anyone. And if you have diabetes, you have the additional task of coordinating all these activities along with your diabetes management. Often, diabetes management slips when we're busy. Stress raises the blood glucose, too. If your blood glucoses run consistently higher, it can affect how you feel, resulting in feeling tired and low in energy.

Does this multitasking really work? From a number of articles I've recently read, it doesn't work well for most of us. We can't truly concentrate on more than one thing at a time; our mind shifts between the different tasks. Also, trying to juggle multiple tasks, rather than focusing on each task, may actually take longer overall.

Have you heard of present moment awareness? It means living in the present moment, having awareness of right here and right now. Present moment awareness is the opposite of an automatic or routine response. The next time you rush to do some task, slow down and take in the small things happening around you. Notice the dimples in your child's face when he or she smiles, the soothing sound of water coming from the faucet when you fill up your glass, the shadows in the room when you turn on the lights, or the smell of the cat litter box.

You have the power of the moment. Ask yourself whether you want to:

  1. Do the task now?
  2. Do the task later?
  3. Don't do the task?

You really do have a choice. I think present moment awareness is a new version of "stop and smell the roses." Slow down, notice and enjoy the small things happening around you, prioritize, and enjoy the season.

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