The Mind-Body Connection
The mind and body are intricately connected. Physiologically, the central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, is responsible for the movements, senses and functions of the body. From digestion to sight, to sense of touch and smell, and pain and pleasure, the mind and body work together to form the entire human experience.
Diseases and disorders of the mind that diminish mental health can have serious physical consequences. It goes the other way as well, where physical diseases, injuries or ailments, can lead to mental health issues.
Diabetes is a prime example of the interconnectedness of mental and physical health. Stress, anxiety and depression have been connected to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are far more likely to suffer from these mental health conditions after being diagnosed.
Incorporating Daily Practice in to Your Health Routine
Practicing mindfulness exercises and daily physical activity has been shown repeatedly to help manage stress and depression, and promote mental balance and happiness. Mindfulness exercises are therefore a crucial component in both preventing and managing type 2 diabetes, and reducing the risk of complications for type 1 and type 2 diabetics.
Mindfulness itself is defined by the University of California at Berkeley as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.” In other words, mindfulness means living in and appreciating the present.
Buddhist thought is credited with the development of the philosophical structure of mindfulness, though in practice mindfulness plays an important role in many traditional cultures. In modern fast-paced societies, much of this “centered” approach to living has been lost, and awareness of one’s self and surroundings along with it.
The good news is that one does not need to be a Buddhist monk to reap the benefits of mindfulness practice. Research has been consistently showing that as little as 15 to 30 minutes per day of mindfulness exercise (termed clinically Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or MBSR) can have far reaching benefits for mental and physical health.
Learn More About Mindfulness Exercises and their Role in Diabetes Prevention and Management
Resources and Further Reading
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and its benefits for diabetics: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2909138/
A study looking at stress as a modifiable risk factor for diabetes incidence and diabetes complications: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28664919
A guide to mindfulness from the University of California at Berkeley: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition
SMALL STEP, BIG IMPACT
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