Breathwork for Diabetes: Stop. Breathe. Think. Respond.

Breathwork for Diabetes: Stop. Breathe. Think. Respond.

Metabolizing Diabetes in Your Body

There are so many moments in our daily lives as simply people, and also people living with diabetes when we have to navigate how we’re going to approach the many scenarios that affect everyday life, our diabetes, and how we live well within it.

In the same way that we ingest foods into our bodies daily, we ingest thoughts and feelings. While our bodies naturally metabolize food (typically) in the correct way by absorbing the good and getting rid of the bad, they don’t always metabolize everything that’s thrown at you mentally.

And when it comes to absorbing and internalizing the feelings and thoughts that come with diabetes specifically, there’s a lot that needs metabolizing: high blood sugar, low blood sugar, dealing with insurance companies, running out of supplies. It’s a long list, as I’m sure you’re aware.

I was definitely feeling the effects of all the constant management, beeping, and problem-solving. Diabetes -- and, particularly the way I was reacting to the curveballs it threw my way -- was definitely causing undue stress that I didn’t need in my precious body.

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I wanted to figure out a way to lessen that burden.

Metabolizing Diabetes Through Breathwork

A few years ago, when I started the physical practice of yoga, I also started incorporating breathwork and pauses.

First, allowing myself to just sit, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. If it became 5 minutes of meditation, I honored it. If it was 10 seconds, I honored it. I could just feel that these pauses were having a huge impact on my overall wellness.

Then I started taking a moment to breathe before I responded to any situation that would typically trigger a stress response.

I would stop, breathe, think, respond....move on.

I chose not to sit, stew, and over-analyze what I could have done differently. And a funny thing started to happen. Those things that used to get at me no longer had the hold they used to.

To get started with your own breathwork, start by taking deep, thoughtful breaths, exhaling loudly (a catharsis mechanism, truly), and putting your hands on your belly or heart. Let your body know it can relax (the body doesn’t know the difference between someone else’s touch and your own, so you can soothe your own nervous system simply by touching it.

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Keep breathing in -- deeply -- and hold. Then, breathe out, audibly. You are currently moving into a resting, digesting, integrated healing space of safety.

As you’re breathing, think about the stressors that diabetes has caused today, last week, over the course of the year. Acknowledge them by feeling, with your hands still holding your body, the way your body feels in that moment.

Then, acknowledge the graces you’ve received. Maybe someone offered you a healthy food option in a time of temptation; perhaps the pharmacist helped you get your refill faster. Once you pinpoint, acknowledge, and meditate on that one grace, you may begin to see others -- the hope is that these graces will multiply.

And when they do, let those feelings of gratitude come over you. Let them fill those same parts of your body that were just feeling tense, pressured, broken, and protected. Keep breathing in deeply, feeling the breath sink all the way into your stomach and hold it there. Then, release.

As I kept practicing this method of breathwork, my stress reaction became less and less. My body became naturally more and more relaxed and I began feeling at-ease with this disease.Simultaneously, my blood sugars eased as well. I could see it and feel it.

Now, I meditate and do breath work in some capacity every single day. I don’t set boundaries around what it needs to look like. I simply do it whenever I can, for however long I can. I also take deep breaths often, throughout the day.

Use all of this as a guide! Try it out for yourself and see how it makes you feel. And if you need any other inspiration, just reach out! You can find me on Instagram at @azure.wolfe. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Azure Wolfe
Jan 17, 2020

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