Can mindfulness help my diabetes?
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice that teaches the individual to take notice and be aware of their mind, body or surroundings. It aims to help you to be more self-aware, feel calmer and less stressed, cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts and feelings. Mindful practice can help not just your day-to-day wellbeing but it could also benefit your health.
There has been evidence to show that mindfulness based activities can help to ease depression, anxiety and stress by becoming more aware of the signs and being able to deal with them better.
How can mindfulness help with type 2 diabetes?
Having a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be difficult to comprehend and can lead to feelings of guilt, anger and obstruct acceptance of the condition, which can often be called diabetes distress. However, adopting mindfulness practices has been shown to help reduce some of this distress, as well as reducing HbA1c levels and promoting self care.
How can I start to be more mindful?
You do not need to become an expert in mindfulness to be able to adopt some of the practices. You can start small, just by taking a few moments out of your day to just be more aware of certain things and direct your mind towards them such as:
- When sitting down, focus your attention on all the points of your body that are in contact with the chair. Alternatively, you could do it whilst lying down on the bed.
- Eat your food mindfully, and really focus on each mouthful as you are eating. You can try putting down your cutlery between mouthfuls to really bring it to your attention.
- Practice some gentle stretches.
- Do a simple but repetitive activity such as colouring, a jigsaw puzzle or knitting.
Diabetes 101 (no date) 20 ways to relax without deep breathing. Available at https://cdn.website- editor.net/s/d844c7f6da5948c083e6aa912e898d43/files/uploaded/20-ways-to-relax-without-deep-
M3Ns8rMQ5kvzWxzsq-vfnKos0FvoCIEPMBR6ECpOJ4hsl5XDUjP~-JE- IRuY8OdzYYLs4pccDaGaMSBgXK01BpBw__&Key-Pair-Id=K2NXBXLF010TJW (Accessed on
16 March 2023).
Grossman P, Niemann L, Scmidt S and Walach H (2004) ‘Mindfulness-based reduction and health benefits. A meta-analysis’, Journal of psychosomatic research, 57(1), pp. 35-43.
Mind (2021) Mindfulness. Available at https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and- treatments/mindfulness/about-mindfulness/ (Accessed on 14 March 2023).
Ngan HY, Chong YY and Chien WT (2021) ‘Effects of mindfulness – and acceptance-based interventions on diabetes distress and glycaemic level in people with type 2 diabetes: Systematic review and meta-analysis’, Diabetic medicine: a journal of the British Diabetic Association, 38(4), pp. e14525.
NHS (2022) Mindfulness. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/tips-and- support/mindfulness/ (Accessed on 15 March 2023).