By Erika Gebel, PhD
Research suggests that mindfulness—attentiveness to the present without judgment—may reduce stress in people with diabetes. Here are some mindfulness exercises to try:
1. Slowly and mindfully eat a raisin, observing with all your senses. Think about how this is different from how you normally eat.
2. Do a body “scan.” Focus on physical sensations in different parts of the body. Bring your attention back to your sensations when the mind drifts, as it will do, without getting frustrated.
3. Perform one daily activity, such as washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, in a mindful way.
4. Eat one meal a day in a mindful way.
5. Think about how our emotions are not caused by events but by our perception of events.
6. Meditate while sitting. Focus your attention on your breathing. If your mind wanders, gently return your attention as you inhale and exhale.
7. Practice a “three-minute breathing space.” This consists of three parts: Bring your attention to the experiences of the moment, then to your breathing, and then to your body. Try using the three-minute breathing space during unpleasant events.
8. See and hear without judging for a few minutes.
9. Walk mindfully. Move slowly while focusing on your breathing. Inhale slowly during four steps, then exhale over the next four steps. Notice your surroundings.
10. Write down warning signals of emotional distress. Be mindful of these signs when they happen.
Source: Adapted from the Diabetes and Mindfulness (DiaMIND) study, BMI Public Health, Feb. 24, 2011
Photo: Justin Lambert/Getty Images (hand), Yanas/Masterfile (dial)