Gabrielle Mixon shares lifestyle habits that have helped her to thrive mentally while managing her diabetes.
Gabrielle Mixon (26) lives in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
Living with diabetes is a continuous mental challenge. As a person living with Type 1 diabetes, since 2012, I’ve been through the highest of highs and lowest of lows, both literally and figuratively.
Eight years in and I’m witness to the stresses of living with diabetes. Diabetes distress can occur in social situations and when you feel emotionally and physically burdened by the condition. The good news is that with good lifestyle habits you can thrive mentally
Choose your health over fitting in socially
Eating food is most often a social experience that involves other people. In these situations, we want to be a part of the experience, share and indulge in the same things our family and friends do. There is tension between wanting this and what we as a person living with diabetes should be doing.
To choose your health over fitting in socially, and not eating a slice of cake after dinner with everyone else, is not an easy or comfortable choice. It takes practise and, sometimes,trial and error.
On one hand, the food that becomes more Instagram-worthy and socially accepted to consume is filled with sugar. On the other hand, eating clean foods that facilitate healing with properties that promote well-being is also a growing trend. No doubt, we ought to favour the latter.
Consuming products with excessive sugar content is a no-‐no. Let us make habits that are inspired by the words of Hippocrates, ‘’Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.’’
Read labels and know the sugar content
Get into the habit of reading the labels and build up your knowledge about the sugar content in the food products you like. Choose options with the least sugar content when meal planning and get creative.
Eating clean doesn’t have to be boring. It can be a treat; you’re going to feel great afterwards and it can be tasty while look visually appetising too. When you eat clean,you feel good and the result is undoubtedly being in a better frame of mind.
Good night’s rest
Another important factor in being in your best frame of mind is to get a good night’s sleep. This way, you aren’t over doing it on the coffee the next morning.
Make it a priority to get your daily six to eight hours’ sleep. Build on the habit of sleeping enough with getting outside as part of your everyday routine.
This is not always feasible, weather permitting, but take advantage of pleasant weather as much as you can.
If not, there are gyms to go to and home fitness workouts to try. Working out is not only about improving your chances of living long but also a vital element to a strong mental life.
The happy hormones are so beneficial to both your health and social life. The endorphins automatically make you less stressed and allows you to celebrate what is good and makes you forget about what is less favourable.
Fitness is physical, but it can also be meditation.
When it comes to the misses one experiences with diabetes, here’s my advice: let it go and carry on.
This doesn’t mean you should live in denial if your habits are bad, and are resulting in poor health and blood glucose levels. These bad habits can be due to other stresses and circumstances that you are experiencing that is making it difficult to control your condition.
The best thing you can do to thrive mentally is begin journaling. This will help emotionally and educationally. Having diabetes and trying to control your blood sugar level is taxing and to find the discipline to thrive is not an easy or straight path.
Documenting your feelings on the journey will make navigating your way easier as you have physical evidence of your experiences. Keep note of your blood glucose levels when you consume particular foods.
Emotionally you will be able to determine what you were eating, thinking and doing when you felt your best and educationally you will know which foods work for you and which don’t.
Choose good habits
There will always be difficult days and we will all fall off the wagon from time to time.But the aim is to choose good habits and keep doing them to gain control of diabetes so it doesn’t control us and spiral our minds and bodies into a stressful place. By doing this, you can thrive mentally.
Feel good about what you are eating and make sure that what you are eating is good for you. Try, really try, to move your body in a way that feels good to you every day or at least more than three times a week. Your mind and your body will thank you for it.
Lastly, to regain control and have a point of reference should your diabetic journey lead you into a rut, make it a habit to journal.
Wishing you everyday health and happiness.
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