Relaxation Techniques for Managing Diabetes

Shelly Young, LPC Health Guide
  • Most people are unaware that restful states occur naturally within and that at least one of them can be accessed in any given moment. Becoming aware of them, focusing on them or creating a regular mindfulness practice around them, can be very enjoyable and even life transforming. Given the stresses created by diabetes, consider how appealing mental, emotional and physical restfulness can be, and the fact that it can be accessed anytime during your day.  


    One benefit of becoming mindful of restful states is that the more intently you focus on them, the better you feel. This can motivate you to focus even more intently on these pleasant experiences.  It creates a positive feedback loop that increases your concentration power. Concentration is a powerful tool for enhancing all of life's activities and also for becoming more adept at relieving emotional and physical suffering. The restful states can also be used to create a container of equanimity. Equanimity refers to a state of acceptance and openness, within which emotions, physical discomfort and negative urges can be allowed to come and go without suffering. Finally, the restful states can evolve into a self-contained source of sensory fulfillment that is available on-demand, independent of external circumstances. This can be particularly important for people who live in physical or emotional discomfort or people in recovery from substance abuse. It's nice to know that there is a non-addictive, safe and free source of pleasure that can be accessed at will.

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    Here are some simple strategies for accessing restful states. Sit or lie down, close your eyes and notice that there is both brightness and darkness on your closed eyed mental screen. Bring all of your attention to the brightness or darkness only. In any given moment you will be drawn to one or the other.  Intently, but gently focus in on brightness or darkness only. If thoughts, feelings or body sensations distract you, just let them be in the background without trying to be rid of them, and refocus your attention on to brightness or darkness. It can be useful to say the word "blank" to yourself, in a gentle internal voice, as you focus in on the brightness or darkness. It can help you to maintain your concentration. As a practice, it's useful to do this practice for a minimum of 5 minutes at a time.


    Another restful state is physical relaxation. Close your eyes and check around your body to see if there is any place that feels relaxed. It could be an arm, a leg, your foot or any place at all. If you are not aware of any place in the body that feels relaxed, notice that on every exhale there is some sense of relaxation. Another way to access relaxation is to tense up your whole body and then let it go and you will notice relaxation. 


    Focus on any relaxed feeling that you notice in your body. Intently, but gently, pay attention to relaxation only. If thoughts, feelings or body sensations distract you, allow them to be in the background without trying to be rid of them, and refocus your attention onto relaxation. Say the word "relaxed" to yourself in a gentle internal voice.  If you do the "focus on blank" exercise first, it can be easier to access relaxation.


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    Once you get used to noticing relaxation, you can access it with your eyes open. Remember that on every exhale it is available. When you get good at noticing this state, you can maintain an awareness of it when you are emotionally upset or in physical discomfort. This will help you to experience the discomforts which much less or possibly no suffering.


    Enjoying restful states and using them as a tool in stressful situations is a gift that anyone can give themselves. They provide one of the few enjoyable experiences in life that has nothing to do with buying or getting something outside oneself.  


Published On: March 10, 2010