Living life with a chronic disease can really degrade your spirit. So much of our emotional health depends on things mostly outside our control: swinging blood sugar levels, our jobs, and the daily commute are just a few things not easily changed.
I’ve learned, however, that I can choose to do some simple things that influence my outlook and emotions in a positive way, out-of-proportion with the effort and time needed to do them.
I live in a four-season climate that features a lot of wet and cold winter weather. Sunshine during winter is a rare commodity and something most people miss. I know that there is a connection between exposure to the sun and a sense of well-being.
Just the other day, a typical wet and dreary winter one, I was walking down the city street and suddenly the sun came out, bright and glorious. I stopped walking and stood up against the side of a building facing south, lifted my face toward the sun, closed my eyes and luxuriated in the warm sunshine. I enjoyed the bright orange color that the sun makes through my eyelids and just stood there for about five minutes to drink in this primal pleasure.
It was such a simple thing to do, didn’t cost anything, and took little time. I’ve since found two more chances to repeat this bit of sun-worship. I think it connects deeply with my human DNA in a restorative and healing way. This may seem frivolous and non-essential to some but it did brighten my day and boost my spirits even though the rain and clouds soon returned.
There are hundreds of these little “stop and smell the roses” opportunities in each of our days and to tell you the truth, I miss most of them because I’m not watching for them. What little things do you do to harvest the joy that each day can bring?
I am getting ready to have a kidney stone blasted next Wed and after the last few months I have had, I have been quite stressed. Plus the newly diagnosed SIAHD and all the stress is making my glucose levels not nearly as predictable. I could go on and on about my recent medical problems but I will spare anyone reading this.
I was thinking that my husband and I should move to AZ since the weather here is not helping my depression. We had 20 inches of snow last weekend. It was gorgeous but too many dark days. Anyway, I finally made myself read some Ram Dass this afternoon and that immediately helped. He wrote Still Here after he had his stroke and and shared a lot of wisdom about aging, illness and dying. I hadn’t read him in a long time but it certainly helped me to look at my life from a spiritual perspective.
It was a little thing that brightened an extremely stressful day.
I am a 12 year T2, I don’t really considered it a Chronic disease. You might define it that way.
But I control it with diet and exercise only (lots of exercise), I was diagnosed with an A1c of 12.0
I have made lots of changes and improvements. What brightens my day, is to get out and exercise, and move about.
I am 74, T2 to me is just part of my existence that I need to deal with. There are things that are at more serious.
My take on T2
I agree sunshine is so important. I also live in an area that has a long winter. I can do cold if it is bright and sunny with new fallen snow it is beautiful. I do consider diabetes a chronic disease. Even if you are under control it is still making cellular changes to your eyes and kidneys,etc. I do not worry about it, I just count carbs and steps. Marching on.Nancy50
Thank-you for the comments, @Marilyn6, @T2Tom and @Nancy50. Your ranging experience of diabetes reflects the diversity of this community. Any other examples of small pleasurable moments that might be easily overlooked?
One of the main reasons I’ve not moved from San Jose is because of the great weather. AAMOF, we went hiking today. A bit cold, but not like other parts of the country. For us, “cold” is when temps are in the 40’s and 50’s. LOL
The overall climate in the Bay Area is hard to beat. That is definitely something to be savored, especially this time of year.
Yes I miss San Francisco weather especially when it is 20 something degrees outside and I have to go take care of farm animals . I’m in the middle of kidding season right now and the baby goat antics who BTW are wearing sweaters are a bright spot in these short, very cold and icy days.
I’m another denizen of San Jose, and I freely admit that I am a weather wimp. However, my current security post is one that involves a lot of walking outdoors on swing shift, so it’s mostly chilly and sometimes wet. I cheer myself up by what my sister tells me is mindfulness … something that I have always done without realizingthat it has a name, and something that, it sounds like, Terry4 was indulging in when enjoying the sunshine. I pay attention to those moments whenever possible, and sometimes take pictures with my phone of those little moments, like Firenza’s goat picture, to take out again and enjoy later.
A bird’s nest on a ladder hung on an outside wall on my patrol route, or two cat-sisters snuggled up together at home
BTW the birds were mourning doves, and long gone before anyone else at work noticed the nest and decided to removed it. And the cat picture is now on my phone’s screen.
@Firenza and @Yve65, your pictures and words have now brightened my new day. Thank-you!
I use my iphone mostly as a camera! It’s absolutely a way for me to stop and pay attention to color or light. It forces me to get out of my head and to notice things, especially when the daily grind of diabetes starts to wear on me. . Another strategy from an ex-Californian living in a near-constant climate of rain: I finally got a verilux sun lamp, also called a “Happy Light”, in order to get enough light exposure during the winter. I just sit with it nearby in the morning while I’m on the computer. I highly recommend them.
Pretty picture, @Sarah_Moulton! The contrast between the bright green and orange plants with the muted colored background is striking.
Sounds like you considered light therapy for a while before getting one. Your comment is persuasive. Has your overall winter mood improved?
Aw yes, sun in winter in Vermont. I agree with getting the most out of a sunny day and I too get rejuvenated by the exposure to sunlight even in a 9 degree day as yesterday was.
I too believe that T2 is a chronic condition and even though some are able to go into a remission, it still has the potential to cause cellular damage. For me accepting that it’s a chronic condition forces me to focus on my healthy practices each and every day. On the other hand, some are better at getting the acceptance right away and taking immediate action so they have slowed or stopped the complications that come with uncontrolled diabetes. Sadly it took many years for me to smarten up and make myself a priority and implement the changes needed to improve my health. I’ve shared that I have diabetic complications and since the new year have lost nearly 15 pounds, gotten my sugar readings lower than I have seen them in 20+ Years. I pray my motivation stays strong and I continue on this positive path. We are all in a journey and I learn from all of you through your shared experiences.
Thanks for this reminder. I agree that taking these little moments and appreciating them is so restorative. I also live in a cold wintery place and decided last year to embrace it in a new way. I prepare a thermos of hot tea and then invite my husband, or a friend or two, to join me for a short nighttime walk in the snowy woods. We have a nature center in our town where I feel safe taking in the magic of a quiet snowy walk and it even has a wigwam where we can sip our hot drinks, and look through the central roof opening to the stars above. Times like this make me so happy and shrink the worry of diabetes into an impotent little dot that can’t compete with the majestic nature of the night.
There are a few simple little things which are (almost) completely under our control.
I often make coffee in a percolater. A plain old-fashioned stovetop percolater. I like fiddling with all the little parts as I grind the coffee, fill the pot, etc. Then I set it to perk and it fills the whole house with its aroma. (That’s probably a great part of the percolater’s magic.) I listen to the rhythmic liquid beat of the percolater, and sometimes walk over and watch for a minute or two how the darkening liquid shoots up in the little lantern, and then slowly percolates down again.
Sometimes The Female is home while this is going on. In that case, it will often happen that at some stage I will walk over to her with some form of the coffee and tell her to recite the blessing for its aroma. She does so, I put the coffee under her nose, and she inhales slowly and deeply. It often happens that I will then say to her in English, which we don’t usually speak, “Wake up and smell the coffee!”
All this from a pot of coffee.
I work with patients whose health problems are so bad that they should be at the center of their lives or else they will kill them. But the problems got so bad because health would never be a priority for most of them, so you see it’s a vicious cycle. I find this site to be some kind of alternate or parallel universe. Unreal, in a way.
My struggle is finding some way to unlock a person’s motivation to pay attention to their health in the midst of so much struggle, hopelessness, boredom and malaise.
Feel free to post baby goat antics.
That is a big job, a frustrating one, I’m sure. I find it hard to wrap my head around understanding why a person will continue down a path of poor health habits simply because they don’t want to change their ways, even if they understand that their personal status quo is clearly heading them toward pain and disability.
A peer support group like TuD can be a potent tool to change lives but it doesn’t work for everyone every time. This forum and some of the people who participated in it 7-10 years ago sparked my motivation to improve my diabetes health. I realize that most of the responsibility to improve was mine.
I wish I could easily replicate what I’ve been able to do but I don’t know how. I tell my story, express my opinions, and try to diplomatically share the success I’ve enjoyed. It bothers me that posting celebratory statistics discourages people even when I’ve offered them as inspiration. It’s a double edge sword and I don’t know how to make that aspect work better.
What really baffles me is when people read about what I’ve done and they see my case as exceptional, something that they could never do. I try to post about my personal challenges to let people know that my health is not perfect. I live with some significant health deficits including coronary artery disease and I’m sure my long-term diabetes has contributed to it. But I don’t give up.
Finding personal motivation is a different puzzle for each of us. Hope is crucial, without it, not much can be done. I’ve always been attracted to projects that feature a new way of doing something, a new way of thinking about things, especially if there’s an establishment that doubts the value of a system that makes sense to me.
Dr. Bernstein and low-carb eating to treat diabetes, confronted by the traditional medical skepticism that doubts its value, is perfectly suited to fire up my motivation. But that’s me, not everyone is built that way.
You have a hard job and you likely just need to persist and take pleasure in the occasional success. If you turn around one or two people’s life and health, that is worthwhile.
Terry - in response to your question about light therapy: Yes, my overall winter mood has improved. If anyone wants more info on the lamp I got, just ask.
I have a percolator that I use for camping but remember as a child the aroma waffling though the early mornings as my Dad prepared for work. Funny how smells can invoke such feelings and memories.
I love hearing about your perculator being a calming force. My grandma is 102 and is still going strong. She has always started her day with a percolated, or if traveling, boiled “cowboy” coffee. She is at an assisted living place now and she gets up early, percolates some coffee and many of the staff have come to rely on it to start their day. The aroma is divine! I always hope I have some of her good genes mixed in my own.