Recently, I was talking with a young woman – we’ll call her Katie – who was having a really hard time seeing the value of managing her diabetes. She saw it as too much work and the tradeoffs were just not worth the benefit. It’s no surprise that her blood sugars were constantly out of range.
Katie was in a rut with her diabetes, and I was struggling to help her find a reason to care. What really struck me about Katie was that she didn’t really even notice her symptoms of high blood sugar – they had simply become her normal. She wasn’t aware how poorly she was feeling.
Body awareness is helpful for anyone, and it’s especially valuable for people with diabetes. Sometimes you know exactly how you are feeling, while other times you might not be as aware.
If you don’t notice that you’re not feeling great when your blood sugar is high, it can be easy to let your diabetes management slip. Paying attention to how you feel, in an intentional way, can open your eyes and make the benefits of good diabetes management much more real.
A body scan is a great way to observe how you are feeling in an intentional way. It trains your mind to pay attention to specific areas of your body, as well as your body as a whole, in order to increase your awareness of how you are feeling.
The goal of this exercise is simply to observe. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel. Taking time out to be mindful can help you notice feelings and experiences in your body that you may brush over or ignore in your daily life.
It’s best to do a body scan sitting down in a comfortable position when you have at least 10 minutes when you won’t be distracted.
This video guides you through how you can perform a body scan. Just follow the spoken instructions.
After I did a body scan exercise with Katie, she was visibly shaken. For the first time, she noticed how her high blood sugars were making her feel, and how big an impact this had on her life.
She realized that she really didn’t feel well. She has no energy and she felt tired all the time. She had a dull stomach ache and her mouth was dry. She’s had these symptoms for a long time, but she has brushed them aside and they became so normal she stopped paying attention.
Paying attention to how she was feeling was a wakeup call for her. She realized how her high blood sugars were affecting her mood, her friendships, and her work.
Taking time to observe how you’re feeling physically can be helpful even if your diabetes is well managed. It can help you notice things like how certain foods make you feel, how you feel when your blood sugar is high or low, and how you feel after a great workout.
Awareness of how diabetes affects you in the moment – physically and emotionally – is a key to making changes for the better. A body scan is a simple tool to help you gain this awareness.
Give it a try and see what you learn about yourself!