I wasn’t expecting the journey to mastering diabetes to be quite so draining, mentally draining. Yet it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise as I internally review every high blood sugar, asking myself:
What did I do wrong?
Surely I knew that would happen?
Did I really think I could eat that without any consequences?
If you want to see Olive grow up, you need to get this right...
Then with every low my subconscious goes into overdrive, trying to alert me to the drop in blood sugars while keeping me alive.
Life can be tough sometimes. There’s certainly been moments where I’ve wanted to throw it all in and dive head first into a pool of chocolate, poor choices and self-loathing. Screw the consequences. As if diabetics don’t have enough to worry about, I discovered we are 50% more likely to be depressed, than people without diabetes. Great! It’s pretty clear, to master diabetes I need to be physically fit and mentally strong. In fact this isn’t restricted to diabetics, we all need to be mentally strong – as I said, life can be tough.
Many of us choose healthy food options and exercise to build a strong body, but how many fuel our minds to improve mental health?
I was introduced to the New Zealand mental health foundations five ways to wellbeing, when I worked for Westpac. Introducing five simple strategies into your life helps build a strong, healthy and resilient mind. It’s been proven that a healthy mind ensures you ‘flourish’ and are more likely to get through whatever comes your way (poor health, family commitments, work pressure, break-ups or money issues).
My little family have been trying to make the five ways to wellbeing part of daily life. I’ve certainly noticed that on grey days, flat periods or moments of stress – upon reflection we’d all been ‘too busy’ to practice the five ways. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon without training, we can’t expect to be mentally strong and healthy without putting in some work either.
Here are a few ways we use the five ways to wellbeing.
GIVE – your time, your words, your presence As ‘’career loving parents’’ (Lean in by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg) it’s no surprise that both my husband and I are extremely time poor. We think creatively about how we ‘give’. Hayden is currently helping a local 4x4 club organise an event in February, while I share my diabetes journey, ‘my words’ through my blog. I initially hoped my diabetes journey would help others, unaware that the process was also helping me.
CONNECT – Talk and listen, be there, feel connected We are notorious multi taskers and while we get things done, what are we missing? We recently introduced new rules, Sunday is family day. No multitasking, no work, no study – just reconnecting with each other, my little family of three. We try to get out of the house and go somewhere new, to get away from it all. My working mum guilt has reduced since making this simple change.
We’ve also introduced a new bed time ritual with Olive, little miss four. After the chaotic dinner, bath, and pyjama battle – we stop and play cards. Go fish is our favourite at the moment. Go fish instructions
Life gets busy and before you know it, you’ve gone weeks without properly catching up (connecting) with friends and family. I am amazed how recharged and energized I feel after catching up with my girlfriends. We laugh, we cry, we share our frustrations, tips, tricks, food and wine! I am surrounded by an unwavering network of support. (To my beautiful friends, thank you xxx)
TAKE NOTICE – Remember the simple things that give you joy
Quite possibly the simplest wellbeing strategy but in reality, for many, the hardest to implement. Have you ever found yourself on a bus clearing emails, checking facebook, catching up on the news, oblivious to what is happening around you? I certainly have.
Earlier in the year we began sharing ‘three good things’ from our day. The aim isn’t to sugar-coat what’s happened, but to take time to reflect and be grateful for the simple things.
My three good things today:
My blood sugar levels were within range at lunchtime and dinner!
It’s raining, which means I don’t have to water the garden
I received an email from my brother living in Vancouver.
They say music is good for the soul. I figure if it’s good for the soul, it’s also good for your mind. I heard this tune today for the first time and it made me walk a little taller. It also made me think of the All Blacks vs Australia world cup grand final this weekend. Go the All Blacks!
KEEP LEARNING – Embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself
As an instructional designer this wellbeing strategy is dear to my heart. I am a life-long learner that thrives on learning, new experiences and opportunities. This year I set myself a challenge to learn something new every month. I’ve enrolled in lessons, scoured the internet and soaked up the expertise of my friends, family and colleagues. So far I have learnt how to paddleboard, use hashtags, create a website, understand employment law, write a job description and how to surf (ok, I had one lesson and certainly have a long way to go!). What could I learn during the remaining months? Perhaps I’ll learn how to play Gin-rummy and throw a kick-arse birthday party for a five year old.
BE ACTIVE – Do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood
It’s all about increasing your heart rate and working up a sweat. Exercise is good for your waist line but more importantly it makes you feel good! We’ve been known to create impromptu dance floors in the lounge or practice yoga at our place. (Check out the Yoga Studio ipad App.) We try to walk the dog as much as possible and now that Olive rides a two-wheeler we can finally increase the pace.
We’d love to get back into the gym one day, but for now renovating our home and spending time in the garden is what we can do to move our mood.
What do you do to improve your mental health?
As we head into the festive season and I continue my diabetes journey I will share how I’m using the five ways to wellbeing, daily on Instagram. Come and join me @mastering_diabetes. #masteringdiabetes #fivewaystowellbeing