Diabetes One Day at a Time: Staying Present

Have you been fighting stress and a general sense of hopelessness and defeat? I know how you feel. It is an ongoing battle for many of us who live with Type 2 diabetes day after day.

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Blood sugar checks, medications, worry over weight and diet, trying to get active in spite of pain, these can wear us down. If you carry the burden of yesterday’s mistakes into today, depression is waiting around the corner to make every part of your life much worse.

This is a message I need to hear because I have not been making good food choices lately, and exercise has been hit and miss for a while. I need to remember that today is all that matters.

We cannot bring the things we did or did not do in the past along with us into the present. It is hard enough to deal with today’s problems without that. Most of us who have Type 2 diabetes know how a sedentary lifestyle and sugar-loaded Western diet might have brought on this chronic disease.

The worst thing we can do now is to bring the burden of past mistakes into today. Every human lives with the consequences of old decisions. Those consequences are part of life for all of us. It may help to remember this during your daily battles with the complications of Type 2.

I want to encourage you to take your journey one day at a time. Defeat and burnout are common among people who have had diabetes for many years, who carry their history like a burden, dragging it into every new day.

This is a very real issue for you if you have diabetes. Your body does not know the difference between the stresses you encounter today and the old stresses from your past. It reacts the same way, flooding your system with hormones like cortisol, raising your blood pressure and blood sugar, preparing you to fight or run.

Many experts believe chronic stress is a major underlying cause for the visceral fat, or deep abdominal fat deposits that trigger insulin resistance, leading to Type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

So living one day at a time is not just good philosophy. It ends the cycle caused by chronic stress. It is good for your heart. It improves your sleep and makes blood sugar easier to control.

Lower stress comes from knowing that the choices we make today are the only ones that matter. This is going to take some practice if you have a habit of holding onto past mistakes. It may help to realize that you used to know how to live in the present.

Do you remember how it felt to be a child? You could get engrossed in mud pies or finger paints or games. You did not worry about what you were making, what it would become. The joy came from the doing. You did not exercise because you had a goal. It was play. It was fun.

You did not think about how you ought to look or feel. You laughed or cried easily. It was simple to live in the moment since you had no past. But now you are full of memories.

That is why living one day at a time no longer feels natural. It is something you have to choose, not just once but every day. But it is worth the effort. Living in the present will stop the cycle of stress and make room in your life for hope and peace.

My journey with diabetes starts fresh today. So can yours.

Remember this old quote? “Today is a gift…that’s why it is called the present.” I like that.

Exercise is an important part of managing diabetes. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to learn strategies for overcoming barriers to physical activity — including that it just doesn’t seem like much fun — from nurse David Spero.

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