Wellbeing linked to mastering diabetes
Ruby McGill, Director of Youth Diabetes New Zealand, is an advocate for New Zealand Mental Health foundation’s five ways to wellbeing. Here, we share a blog she wrote in 2015 for her website Mastering Diabetes.
I wasn’t expecting the journey to mastering diabetes to be quite so draining, mentally draining. Yet it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise as I internally review every high blood sugar, asking myself:
What did I do wrong?
Surely I knew that would happen?
Did I really think I could eat that without any consequences?
If you want to see Olive grow up, you need to get this right...
Then with every low my subconscious goes into overdrive, trying to alert me to the drop in blood sugars while keeping me alive.
Life can be tough sometimes. There’s certainly been moments where I’ve wanted to throw it all in and dive head first into a pool of chocolate, poor choices and self-loathing. Screw the consequences. As if diabetics don’t have enough to worry about, I discovered we are 50% more likely to be depressed, than people without diabetes. Great! It’s pretty clear, to master diabetes I need to be physically fit and mentally strong. In fact this isn’t restricted to diabetics, we all need to be mentally strong – as I said, life can be tough.
Many of us choose healthy food options and exercise to build a strong body, but how many fuel our minds to improve mental health?
I was introduced to the New Zealand mental health foundations five ways to wellbeing, when I worked for Westpac. Introducing five simple strategies into your life helps build a strong, healthy and resilient mind. It’s been proven that a healthy mind ensures you ‘flourish’ and are more likely to get through whatever comes your way (poor health, family commitments, work pressure, break-ups or money issues).
My little family have been trying to make the five ways to wellbeing part of daily life. I’ve certainly noticed that on grey days, flat periods or moments of stress – upon reflection we’d all been ‘too busy’ to practice the five ways. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon without training, we can’t expect to be mentally strong and healthy without putting in some work either.
Here are a few ways we use the five ways to wellbeing.
GIVE – your time, your words, your presence
As ‘’career loving parents’’ (Lean in by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg) it’s no surprise that both my husband and I are extremely time poor. We think creatively about how we ‘give’. Hayden is currently helping a local 4x4 club organise an event in February, while I share my diabetes journey, ‘my words’ through my blog. I initially hoped my diabetes journey would help others, unaware that the process was also helping me.
CONNECT – Talk and listen, be there, feel connected
We are notorious multi taskers and while we get things done, what are we missing? We recently introduced new rules, Sunday is family day. No multitasking, no work, no study – just reconnecting with each other, my little family of three. We try to get out of the house and go somewhere new, to get away from it all. My working mum guilt has reduced since making this simple change.
We’ve also introduced a new bed time ritual with Olive, little miss four. After the chaotic dinner, bath, and pyjama battle – we stop and play cards. Go fish is our favourite at the moment. Go fish instructions
Life gets busy and before you know it, you’ve gone weeks without properly catching up (connecting) with friends and family. I am amazed how recharged and energized I feel after catching up with my girlfriends. We laugh, we cry, we share our frustrations, tips, tricks, food and wine! I am surrounded by an unwavering network of support. (To my beautiful friends, thank you xxx)
TAKE NOTICE – Remember the simple things that give you joy
Quite possibly the simplest wellbeing strategy but in reality, for many, the hardest to implement. Have you ever found yourself on a bus clearing emails, checking facebook, catching up on the news, oblivious to what is happening around you? I certainly have.
Earlier in the year we began sharing ‘three good things’ from our day. The aim isn’t to sugar-coat what’s happened, but to take time to reflect and be grateful for the simple things.
My three good things today:
My blood sugar levels were within range at lunchtime and dinner!
It’s raining, which means I don’t have to water the garden
I received an email from my brother living in Vancouver.