A Still Spot in the Noise
Ways to manage stress when life starts to boil over.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
October 2007 —At times like these, I think about a line in one of my favorite poems by Gwendolyn Brooks. In "The Explorer", she begins with: "Somehow to find a still spot in the noise" – and I am searching for my still spot right now.
Stress, whether negative or positive, creates a frenzied, harried feeling in me. Looking back on my year and judging it on the Life Events Stress Scale created by Holmes and Rahe has me rolling my eyes and wondering when I'll get a vacation. (Even taking a vacation causes stress – ironic, isn't it?)
I've instituted a lot of major changes in my career and my home life. Medical events that were out of my control have cropped up and wreaked havoc. We've moving next month from our home close to family to a large city six hours away that is filled with opportunities. It's exciting, scary, and, of course, stressful. Right now, my blood sugars are bouncing. My food intake is atrocious. I'm ashamed to admit that I've created my own food group pyramid that has diet soda as the main component.
Don't even get me started on the holiday season! Calculating a holiday meal has me running for an advanced mathematics book and the quelling of knee-jerk responses to: "Can you eat that?" is cause for the purchase of "Emily Post's Guide to Answering Stupid Diabetic Questions". (What? There's no guide? Emily! Please! Help us! I promise to write a charming thank you note if you do!)
What are we supposed to do to make it through when it all gets to be overwhelming? Here's what I'm trying to do:
Accept the Stress
I've stopped trying to control the stress that had been introduced into my life. It's "very Zen" and somewhat difficult for me. I've always thrived on chaos – or so I thought. Rolling with the punches, for most diabetics, is an everyday habit. We are constantly adjusting, tweaking, and dealing with high and low blood sugars. It's stressful to deal with the constant changes, but once the concept of accepting the stress rather than trying to fight it…well, it's the first step to feeling better.
Be Good to Myself and Others
I've been railing against the tide lately with the inequity of being diabetic. A common cold has us down for the count much longer than the average individual, never mind the flu or other medical maladies. I'm angry. Resentful. Downright furious.
So, instead of berating myself and the disease, I'm trying to be good to myself and the people around me who care about my well-being. My family has been incredibly considerate with their time, support, and ears. They have let me vent without judgment or platitudes and it's helped to reduce my stress level. They know, as well as I do, that I can't wave my magic wand and cure my disease (although that magic wand is on my wish list again this year), but sometimes, it's just good to know that they understand.
Take Care of My Diabetes
If it were just as simple as taking insulin and checking blood sugars, right? It's not, and in order to feel less stressed, I have to take care of myself. This means cutting back on the caffeine (I'd like to apologize to the cola company right now for the drop in profits they'll experience once I stop gulping their fizzy drinks…), getting enough sleep, and eating healthier.
All of the above mentioned steps will help to bring my blood sugars back to a manageable level and allow me to focus better on the tasks at hand.
To be honest, I'm looking for ways to cut down on my stress level and find that "still spot" and I'm looking for help. What do you do? How do you manage? Let me know!
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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