Relax to beat diabetes: Tension tamers

The ability to relax is very important in controlling diabetes. You can learn to leave stress behind and promote feelings of peace and calm with a few simple techniques to help you.

Relax to beat diabetes: Tension tamers

Progressive relaxation

You need 20 minutes for this routine. Practice at least once a day.

  1. Lie down or sit in a comfortable chair that supports your head, close your eyes and mentally scan your body for places that feel tense.
  2. Follow the sequence below, clenching each muscle tightly, hold for five seconds and take 20 seconds to release the tension completely. Move on to the next area.
  3. Silently repeat a soothing thought, such as "I am completely relaxed."
  • Hands: Clench your fists, then relax.
  • Arms: Bend your dominant arm at the elbow and tense your biceps and lower arm as hard as you can without clenching your fist. Relax and repeat with the other arm.
  • Forehead: Raise your eyebrows and wrinkle your forehead as tightly as you can. Relax while picturing your forehead becoming smooth. Next, deeply furrow your brow into a frown and relax.
  • Eyes: Shut your eyes as tightly as you can, relax, keeping your eyelids closed.
  • Jaw: Tighten your jaw so your back teeth clench together. Gradually relax, ending with your lips slightly parted.
  • Lips: Press your lips and front teeth together, relax.
  • Neck: Push your head back into the chair, relax. Bend your neck and move your chin down onto your chest. Relax, letting your head return to an upright position.
  • Shoulders: Shrug your shoulders up as far as comfortable. Release, noting the relaxation you feel in your neck.
  • Abdomen: Pull your navel in toward your backbone, relax.
  • Buttocks: Squeeze your buttocks together, relax.
  • Thighs: Push your heels against the floor, relax.
  • Calves, feet: Curl your toes towards the floor, keeping your heels flat, relax.
  • Shins: Raise your toes off the floor, relax.

Arm yourself with autogenics

Autogenics uses imagination to make your body relax. Choose a quiet room and a comfortable chair that supports your head, back and arms. Settle in, close your eyes and do the following.

  1. Concentrate on your dominant arm. Mentally repeat "My arm is heavy" and imagine it becoming heavier. Pause then repeat the phrase four times.
  2. Do the same with your other arm.
  3. Next, repeat the exercise using "Both my arms are heavy."
  4. Concentrate on your right leg and slowly repeat "My right leg is heavy," four times.
  5. Repeat with your left leg, then both legs.
  6. Repeat the whole exercise, using the word warm instead of heavy; imagine your limbs becoming warmer.

After using this technique, you can try another exercise, imagining your limbs becoming heavier and warmer at the same time. Always end the exercise by telling yourself, "When I open my eyes, I will be refreshed and alert."

Get a massage

A luxuriously indulgent massage could actually help you manage diabetes. Nothing is more relaxing, and relaxation lowers levels of stress hormones, which in turn lowers blood sugar. Massage also boosts blood circulation, often less than ideal in people with diabetes. In short, massage isn't just about being pampered; it's also about your health.

Massage from a professional massage therapist is best. Local spas and gyms offer massage services, or ask your doctor for a referral. Swedish massage is the type generally used for relaxation.

  • Tell the therapist you have diabetes, as your blood sugar could drop during the massage.
  • If you take insulin, massage may increase your body's uptake at the injection site and send your blood sugar down as well. Be prepared with a sugary snack.
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