How many times a day do you check your blood sugar? I'm not asking that to sound like your doctor, just inquiring from one diabetic to another. I check up to 12 times a day, depending on my activity level and if my set is functioning properly. When I was a teenager, I probably checked in only 4 or 5 times a day. In fact, I remember going through the school day without testing for lunch. Not surprisingly, my A1C was in the 8s back then and, in general, I was pretty numb to my diabetes. It took longer for me to pick up on symptoms of highs or lows. I went through the motions of testing and giving insulin, but I didn't pay attention to any trends. I was just kind of trucking through.
Now, I am so much more alert to the slightest fluctuation in my blood sugar. I sense a rise after eating or a dip while running. I notice patterns and I consider how different factors effect my blood sugar. I've learned that bananas require more insulin than they should according to my carb ratio. I've realized that temp basals and suspending my pump are great ways to avoid lows during exercise. Instead of just plodding through my diabetes, I've started to dig deeper in order to figure out how to feel my best. This change started with the decision to check in more often.
As diabetics, we know the key to physical health is checking our blood sugars frequently, but has it ever occurred to you to think about how often you check in with your heart? There isn't a number to measure this check in, but that doesn't make it any less important to our well being. Just like when we don't test our blood sugars frequently and we become numb to the physical sensations, if we stop checking in with our emotions, we become desensitized to our inner self.
So, what are some ways you can start checking in with yourself? Well, just as you know certain times to test your blood sugar (before eating, after exercising, etc.), you can start to develop different signals for checking in with yourself. Perhaps it's before you begin a meal. After testing your blood sugar and sitting down to eat, take three deep breaths. Not only is this calming, and will help to bring your focus to your food, but it is also centering and will help release any external mind traffic and allow you to tune into your soul. Taking three deep breaths at any time is my favorite way to stay in touch with myself throughout the day. When I haven't been pausing to do this enough, I feel disconnected and I am more prone to being irritable.
Here are a few other ideas for working more self check-ins into your routine:
From keeping a journal to jotting down lists, writing turns up the volume on your internal voice and helps bring clarity to anything simmering on the back burner of your soul. If you struggle with the idea of keeping a daily diary, consider turning to a journal whenever you find yourself reacting strongly to something. It can be positive or negative, big or small. Eventually you might reveal some patterns in your life that will help you make more sense of your thoughts and actions. After all, there's a reason endocrinologists recommend keeping a log book of our blood sugars. Use this technique to discover emotional trends.
Moving your body is a great way to turn your attention inward. Walk, run, bike, swim, practice yoga, or any other form of exercise that you prefer to reconnect with your center. Personally, walking in nature is when I come up with my most creative ideas. In the initial moments after a sweaty workout is when I find utter clarity. And there's nothing like time on the yoga mat to quiet my mind.
I love listening to music and podcasts when I am in the car, but lately I've found such peace in driving to work without anything playing. Last week I found myself blasting songs in an attempt to drown out my bad mood, but today I just decided to sit with it instead. I never run with music either (which started because I lost my ipod but then I never went back). Doing some activities in silence can be a great way to amplify your other senses.
4.) Being in Nature
Our inner selves are with us no matter what we do, but sometimes, it's because of how much we are doing that we can get disconnected. Especially in the age of technology, with so much information available to us and social media, which gives us constant access to each other's lives, there is a lot of surface level activity going on that our souls often get buried under. What better place to reconnect with yourself than in nature, where everything functions around the notion of just being.
Maybe you don't think you are artistic, but I believe that everyone is an artist. (Check out my article on that here.) Whatever the medium, painting, drawing, baking, playing an instrument, sculpting, singing, building, writing, designing, this is playtime for the soul. Let the mind free and create through the soul.
I hope these ideas inspire you to take "checking in" beyond your blood sugars and to your inner self. When we check our blood sugars more frequently, we improve our physical health and checking in with our selves more frequently can equally beneficial to our over all well-being.
If you are inspired by this post at all, then I would like to invite you to join me in Jaime Mendell's Master Your Life Challenge, which is "a FREE 8-day journey to discover what self care really looks like." Jaime is a health coach who specializes in helping women overcome destructive patterns by developing a better relationship with themselves. I follow Jaime's blog and recently attended a webinar she hosted. I am a big fan of her coaching style and philosophy and I am very much looking forward to her leadership in this 8-day Challenge! The program begins on Wednesday, September 14th. Learn more about Jaime and register for the challenge today! Comment below if you decide to join me!