Highs & Lows Taking A Toll? Flex Your Mental Muscles with Resilience Practices
Resilience is the key to avoiding the burnout that can come from the highs and lows in challenges related to diabetes, or really any area of life.
The importance of resilience and type 2 diabetes
Resilience can be described as the ability to bounce back after hardships. But how do you become more resilient? One of the most important tools for building mental strength and resilience is reflection, which leads to awareness. Next, we want to focus on areas of growth, including mindset and self-talk.
Strategies to aid in reflection and awareness
It is a natural tendency to want to avoid thinking about difficult times and just try to move forward. But that is easier said than done. Plus, it is most beneficial to try and avoid difficult situations again in the future, if possible.
Whether it's a series of high blood sugar readings, undesirable lab reports, arguments with loved ones, or any other ‘low’ point, reflecting on the details that may have contributed can be helpful, especially if it happens often. Equally as beneficial is to reflect on how you managed to overcome it!
- What went well? What didn’t? Why?
- What did I struggle with? Why? What helped?
- What made things worse?
- Where was I able to improvise, adapt and overcome?
- Where did I take responsibility for things within my control?
- What is one example that I could have given up but I didn’t?
- Where was I successful in reaching out for help?
- What lessons can I apply to the next struggle or a similar situation?
- What did I learn about myself?
- Values, things that are important to me
- Traits and patterns
- Strengths and weaknesses
- What did I learn about my self-talk? Is it largely positive or negative?
- What did I learn about my mindset? Is it flexible or rigid? Is it optimistic or pessimistic?
- What are some lessons/key takeaways from this difficult time? Lessons learned on:
- Self-limiting beliefs and unrealized potential
- Anxieties and fears
Lessons learned about yourself are key to identifying your needs. This could mean self-awareness about strengths and weaknesses in yourself, or maybe even in your relationships or environment. Where do you need:
- Self compassion
- To change
Employ tools to help with reflection & resilience
Journaling. Journaling is a great therapeutic tool. Plus, it helps actually keep a record of events, including emotions, both triumphant and defeating.
Keeping a gratitude journal. Maintaining a gratitude practice has been proven to improve outlook and empathy. This could be as simple as writing one small thing you are grateful for each day.
Tracking weekly or monthly accomplishments. Some of life’s biggest challenges, including things like reducing A1c or losing weight, take time to see big results. The delay can be discouraging and it's hard to see the big picture on rough days. Keeping track of small accomplishments can help show the steps on the bigger journey, whether that’s starting a walking routine, cutting out sodas, or beginning a practice of journaling.
Review photos. Pictures speak a thousand words. And we live in a world where snapping a pic with your phone is an easy tool for documenting a moment.
Tech for health and diabetes management. Tools like continuous glucose monitors (CGM) or even apps for tracking blood sugar and meals give you a record.
Strategies to identify areas for growth for resilience
In identifying your own needs, you may get a better understanding of things you need to change, grow, or work on. When it comes to building mental strength and resilience, mindset, self-talk, and acceptance are key players. Here are some points to keep in mind:
Consider your self-talk
- Practice confident self-talk that is geared towards overcoming the challenge. Confidence doesn’t have to be a “know it all” feeling, but rather confidence in your ability to keep trying, to know where to look for an answer, to know that you have the support and that you can ultimately figure it out.
- Practice self-compassion. Recognize when things are out of your control. Remember that, though you may not have control of circumstances, you are in control of how you respond to them.
- Reframe negative thinking. It is natural for our brains to want to focus on the negative or failures (for example: “that one time my A1c was really high”). But this type of self-talk has a tendency to discredit the positives and only focus on negatives, even if they aren’t the norm.
Consider your mindset
- Aim to have a flexible mindset. Rigid and all-or-nothing thinking doesn’t allow you to look for creative solutions or positive aspects.
- Remain optimistic. When it comes to resilience, one of the most important factors is a positive attitude. A practice of positive thinking primes your brain for positive outcomes. While it's okay to have times when you are feeling down, a pessimistic mindset is sure to keep you there.
- Aim for acceptance. Acceptance is a strong predictor of resilience. This includes acceptance that things may not go as planned or hoped. It is also important to practice acceptance that you are not in full control of everything, especially during challenging times. Embrace the period of adapting to changes and challenges. Ask yourself how you can move forward...we must accept and acknowledge that life goes on, even though it may look different.
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