How to Start the Mornings Off Right Regardless of Your Blood Sugar Numbers
What's the first thing you do in the morning? Check your blood sugar? Check your email? Turn on the TV? Check the news?
I almost always test my blood sugar first thing. Those five seconds between the drop of blood upon the strip and the cold digital number generated as a result are nerve-wracking. I've been using it as a gauge for my day. High? I'm already behind and battling right out of the gates. Low? The roller-coaster ride begins. Lows make me sad. On-target? Today's gonna be a good good day.
The problem? Well, those "perfect" days are few and far between. I've got no problem admitting my imperfections (of which there are an abundance), but beginning the day feeling like I've already done something wrong is no way to wake up. Might be part of the reason some days I don't want to get out of bed.
So what to do?
What's the solution?
Might I suggest my newly adopted Habitual [morning] Ritual?
Here's the deal:
I do things a little differently now. I'm not big on huge resolutions because I think they set us up for failure, but you might try creating a habitual ritual to start your day off right--especially if you're anything like me and have lived a lesser life (and felt like a lesser person) as a result of your unchecked habits and frequent reactivity (to numbers, outcomes beyond your control, etc.). Those habits include habits of mind, including, for example, the habitual thoughts I tell myself over and over ad infinitum about what the numbers say about me as a person. A1C. Glucose. Blood pressure. Poundage. $$'s I'm overdrawn. # of grays. # of new blemishes appearing overnight. You get the picture...
As I write this, I checked my bloodsugar and felt a surge of happiness and self-confidence because my first bloodsugar of the day was 100! (100!) then you might try this, too. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. It doesn't have to take much time. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. A half-hour. Whatever you've got. Even changing the first minute of your day has the power to change your energy and outlook on the day.
Rumor has it takes about three weeks to create or break a habit. I'm not talking clinical addiction here, but our plain ol' everyday habits. It is said that our habits create our destinies. I say habits also create (or deflate) our confidence, courage and even our productivity and creativity. In other words, our daily choices, routines, and seemingly insignificant moments make all the difference--not always in our bloodsugar results, but the results we continue to see (or not see) in our lives--both in and outside of the realm of diabetes.
Introducing the Habitual Ritual
One of the best ways to generate great results is to create a morning ritual. A powerful morning ritual sets the tone for your entire day - and your entire life. Honestly!
A ritual is personal. We're not talking sacrificial cows or hours on your knees in prayer. A ritual is creative. While engaging in ritual is a proactive step toward creating the feelings and life you want, a ritual is not reactive. Waking up and basing your mood and productivity for the day on the results your glucometer spits out at you (like I've been doing) is reactive. As diabetics, we need to be proactive about our health and our numbers, but they don't have to set the tone for our days. Trouble is, we can' ignore those numbers. We can't not test. Well, we can, but that's not what I'm advocating for here. Here's what I've been doing for three weeks now-long enough for me to consider it a habitual ritual (I am poet, after all). Here's some advice and suggestions for habitual morning rituals which can officially replace that tired ol' habitual mourning ritual of fretting over numbers:
How to Create a Habitual Ritual
My habitual morning ritual is enjoyable and combines physical, creative, mental and emotionally-centering activities to engage my whole Self. Here are some ideas to help you create your own powerful morning ritual:
- Drink a glass or two of water while your coffee or brain is percolating.
When I lived in Taiwan, everyone told me to chug down a half-liter of room-temperature water first thing in the morning. Ice-cubes were non-existent; many Eastern cultures/practitioners believe very cold drinks are problematic for women. It was tea over coffee in Taiwan, though I admit to frequenting the Starbucks on the corner of my block at least once a week.
The thing is, upon waking, your body has (hopefully) spent many hours without hydration. Drinking pure water first thing triggers a series of physiological functions that keep your body super healthy. Some report that this one practice alone works wonders. Believe it or not, doing this gives me more energy than caffeine.
- Adopt the motto: I Like to Move It, Move It!
I like to ease into my days and a shrill alarm or jarring work-out is well, out of the question for me. But exercise is called "The Number One Form of Preventive Medicine."
It is also part of a prescription for increasing a sense of well-being and happiness and taming depression.
As someone who lives with type 1 diabetes and clinical depression, I can attest to the truth of this in my own life. It's not a cure-all, but it works wonders for the mind, body and spirit. Getting in a little exercise first thing allows me a sense of accomplishment and gives me a confidence boost right of the bat.
Getting even a few minutes of exercise first thing sets your day off right. I ease myself into my day by stretching and dancing to music that inspires me. On those rare warmish sunny days of winter here in Wisconsin, I walk around the block or to the park to watch the world wake up. It isn't much. But it changes everything.
Imagine & Intend
- Ask yourself: What's my intention for today? Then, picture it!
"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
What we do with this hour, or that one, is what we are doing."
from The Writing Life [ch. 2]
Knowing that how we spend our days, our ours, is how we spend our lives, what is it you intend for yourself on this day? What do want to happen? How do you want to feel? How would you like to be in the world today? How would like to engage and be engaged by those who cross your path today?
Oprah believes "Intention rules the earth." Remembering your intention puts you (back) on track. You become focused (again). Take a moment before testing your bloodsugar to imagine your day exactly as you'd like it and remind yourself what your intentions are. You don't have to know the how of it right now; you just need to set the intention so your hidden GPS inside maps the right trajectory to your dreams. Hey, it's all about the journey, right?
Make every day Thanks-giving Day!
Like many good habits I've quickly abandoned over the years, I used to write down at least five things I was grateful for before bed. But it became a routine I disliked because I was sleepy and well, can't help resisting being told what to do-even by my own self! Yeah, I have issues with authority--just ask my poor Endocrinologist!
So I tweaked it so that I genuinely create an "attitude of gratitude." Now I just do the list in my head before untucking myself from the covers.
It's a silent prayer to all that is right in the world-my world. Even after nights filled with bad dreams and anxiety, it's never difficult to find a few things to remind myself I'm grateful for before checking my bloodsugar. Do this first. That way, the result on the machine will take on less significance because your heart will already be filled with a sense of cheer and being taken care of. Being grateful first thing connects you with the very energies you need to create more opportunities to experience gratitude in little and big ways. Taking a moment to do this helps you bring that "attitude of gratitude" and positive energy into everything you do, and to everyone with whom I connect. What a gift! If everyone did just this, the world would be a much calmer, happier, (more) civil place.
Choose the best!
It isn't easy for me to eat on a schedule. My bloodsugar tends to dictates how and when I eat. Some mornings, I have to (begrudgingly) wait until my sugar falls into a healthy range before filling it up with any carbs. Or have to eat when I don't feel like it.
I eat as low-carb as possible these days, but I don't avoid them altogether. I've found a low carb bread that allows me two pieces for ten carbs. Not bad. I like pairing that with two poached eggs and sometimes even some greens. Other days I don't have time or the desire to eat that much so I just do the water and later, coffee and take snacks with me for later. Your choice of breakfast foods can set up your success with other meals as well. Start your day off in the healthiest way possible for you - and make it a ritual, not a chore.
Create a "No-Do Do" List
You can rock a "No-Do-Do" list for the morning, too. See? Just saying it makes you smile. I suggest not-doing things that trigger reactionary impulses (*checking bloodsugar and dosing appropriately not included). Examples include tuning in to the news on TV or radio. Checking email or voicemail. Answering texts or the phone. Just chill for a few moments and allow yourself to learn to take care of yourSELF first. This stuff can wait until after your habitual ritual. After all, what if you woke up 15 minutes later? Wouldn't that stuff have waited until then? Then why not give those minutes back to yourself?
The Bumper-Sticker Message:
First Put Your Self First!
Do yourself and those around you a favor and first put yourself first. Of course, you don't have to do anything and maybe none of my suggestions appeal to you, but it's empowering and self-affirming to choose how you start your day instead of letting outside influences dictate it for you. Even if you have kids or an already too-early wake-up time, please just try a few minutes worth of one of these habitual rituals, or create one of your own.
Ease into it. A glass of water. A few stretches-and the next morning while you're stretching, maybe just envisioning how you'd like to feel-how you'd like your day to go--or cull together some things you feel thankful for). Try beginning first thing tomorrow morning, and let your habitual ritual create the heart of your days instead of allowing the results on a machine to determine your day. I promise you you'll feel better-and in feeling good, you can't help but bring that joy and goodness to all who grace your path that day.
Just look at all you've done before your morning cuppa joe!
Note: Working with award winning singer/songwriter, Christine Kane, has influenced me greatly. For life-affirming tips and inspiring articles, I suggest visiting www.christinekane.com and consider signing up for her free 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine, with more than 11,000 subscribers.