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Personal Story: How I Used Meditation and Natural Remedies to Balance Type 1 Diabetes

Personal Story: How I Used Meditation and Natural Remedies to Balance Type 1 Diabetes

I decided to write this story in order to “celebrate” my twentieth diabetes anniversary this fall. In this article, I’m going to tell you a bit more about how it is to live with this particular medical condition and what you can do to improve your overall health — from an entrepreneur’s perspective. Read on to learn how to balance your diabetes when you are your own boss, and the boss of others.

A few words about life with diabetes

Let me just start with this: It’s not that bad. I was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes at a very young age — 6 years old, to be exact. And I have this haunting memory: as optimistic as I may sound, I was devastated when I found out that I had it.

For almost a year, I stayed indoors, didn’t go to school, and thought it can’t get worse than this. Then, something happened during a family trip. There was this parking lot we entered with our car. In a car close to us there was a girl, probably around my age at the time. She waved and smiled at me. I half smiled and waved back. I expected her to run towards me when her dad stopped the car. But then the door opened and she didn’t get out. Her dad came and picked her up and placed her in a wheelchair. And that’s when it hit me: it CAN get worse than my diabetes. Stupid me!

From that point on, I was a different person. The first thing when you get diagnosed is to accept it. It took me a year, but it shouldn’t have. This year, in May, I turned 26. And now, closing in, is my twentieth diabetes anniversary this fall. Growing up with Diabetes, it sort of became part of who I am as a person. I talked about it two years ago in an interview for DiabetesMine.

The bottom line: you should know that you are a fighter, a survivor, a “doer.” You know that you can’t give up. You learn to live with it and adapt it to your lifestyle. Note that I’m not advising for the opposite, to build your life around your condition. And that is the perfect foundation for entrepreneurship, as well — one of the reasons why I encourage people who have a medical condition to go into business. But this isn’t enough to trigger the hunger for being someone above average, for starting your own thing and for doing an amazing job at being happy and balanced.

Family support, before everything else…

I remember clearly the impact my family had on me.

My dad is the type to always encourage me to find my own way. He would always be there to remind me if I screwed up, but I don’t think there is one person more proud of my achievements than he is.

I remember, in forth grade, he came home after sealing a deal and showed me this 100 USD bill: “This is money, sweetie.” I reached out to grab it. He then added: “Sweetie, this is our money. If you want your own, you have to earn it.” That’s how I became “obsessed” with American dollars. And it’s probably the earliest business advice I ever received.

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Since we’re both diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I feel he gets me better than anyone in a way. The scariest thing is when one of us is sick or when things get out of hand. As twisted as it may sound, I’m lucky to have someone in the family with the exact same medical condition.

My mom helped me in another way: she made me feel comfortable with my diabetes and never settle for less just because “I have it.” I had to own it. She also taught me that no matter the situation, I should always take my work seriously: as an employee or as a self-employed individual. And she taught me about responsibilities, how you should feed the mouths you’re responsible for before feeding your own. That’s a great lesson when you have your own business: always pay the people you work with, your employees, your collaborators, before you pay yourself.

My big brother is the one who told me about remote work. He also encouraged me to learn design and HTML in 2004. He would bring me home software versions from the University (he studied IT), so I could have access to Flash, Photoshop, and later on, Adobe Creative Suite. Whenever I had trouble with fixing something or installing a program, he would just say “Google it,” or “Read online about the new upgrades.” That educated me in searching and eventually finding solutions on my own, without relying too much on others.

It’s important to have support from your loved ones. My brother and I always say that it’s truly sad not to have a family in this world, because you won’t find genuine support elsewhere, no matter the quality of relationships you have with other people. That includes support for your diabetes. Here’s the thing: in life, as much as in business, you need a leap of faith. Just like Yoda says “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” You either do it, or you don’t. I know it sounds a bit like a cliché, but taking your weaknesses and limits and transforming them into strengths is not impossible. It’s just a matter of perspective: what might seem an early disadvantage could later become a core advantage.

Rule of thumb: keep your diabetes at a conversational level

Let me explain: imagine you are out in the park, every day, jogging. Jogging is healthy and sports in general go hand in hand with a healthy diet. I’ve always had a healthy diet and sports were always present in my life. Just like jogging, Diabetes should be kept at a level that allows you “to make conversation” – or at least, that’s what doctors say: “Don’t stress too much,” “Don’t laugh too hard,” “Don’t drink more than one bottle of beer or a glass of wine,” “Don’t stay up late working,” “Don’t cry or overexert yourself emotionally,” “Keep it at a decent level,” “Slow down.” The truth? These things are close to impossible when the adrenaline of starting your own business kicks in. Or when life kicks in, in general.

I’ve been there too and I get the impression that people with diabetes feel double the pressure and the stress compared to those who don’t have it. Maybe because we are more sensitive. For me, there were times when, no matter how hard I tried to keep that healthy mindset, I lost the secret recipe. Anxiety, stress, fear of failure, and the burdens of a “must succeed” mindset. I told myself that life doesn’t happen so that you can keep it to a “conversational level.” Life is tough. Business is tough. And it’s a challenge worth taking if you can take responsibility for your actions. But then you see your family hurting each time you don’t take care of your diabetes. And that’s not a good habit, is it?

So, the rule of thumb is to keep it at a conversational level. Try everything until you find the secret recipe for a healthy balanced “D” life.

The Secret Recipe

I might lie if I say there’s a universal one, but I’d like to outline what worked for me and my diabetes in terms of sports, meditation, and natural remedies.

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1. Dancing

I loved all the dancing activities I did. I originally started with ballet around the age of 7, but had to quit at some point due to personal reasons. However, 2 years ago, I rediscovered dancing through tango. The dynamics are amazing, it’s one of those activities that you share with a dancing partner and that can help you in many ways. It starts with personal development, which is key in any stage of a medical condition. It helps in accepting and moving on, while being aware of it. I wrote an entire post about how tango changed me personally and professionally.

Bonus points: it helped me get over a breakup, a big step in the healing process.

2. Sports and the outdoors as forms of meditation

I love biking, jogging, playing basketball, football, badminton, and volleyball. To add more, I travel a lot, so walking long distances by foot is also included in the outdoor activities. Without sounding too funny, occasional mushroom-picking excursions also happen, especially during summer or autumn, when it’s “the season” in the mountainside of Romania.

I think sports and outdoor activities are amazing if there is fresh air involved. Combine it with some time off from the city ruckus and you get the perfect combination for a special type of meditation. Here is what you need to do in order to make it feel like meditation:

  1. Be surrounded by fresh air, nature, and silence.
  2. Be alone or surrounded just by people that you are absolutely comfortable with.
  3. Either listen to nature (birds singing, rivers whispering, wind blowing) or to a relaxing tune.
  4. Be relaxed and don’t let your mind run off to stressful places.
  5. Induce yourself into a state of wellbeing, where your only goal is to have no goal.
  6. Meditation is a journey, which involves a Start and Finish line, most of the time in the form of a cycle.
  7. As you get into a state, you live through it, you also have to get out of it, in order to complete it.
  8. Take everything at your own pace. No rush, no pressure.

3. Mindfulness as Meditation

I’m not a big fan of classic meditation techniques. Personally, I don’t like to sit in just one position to help me channel my energies. I like to work with my mind and body in creative and dynamic ways. Though I’m not also not a fan, yoga is highly recommended to Diabetes patients, due to its complexity and relaxation attributes.

Getting back to the topic of Mindfulness. I love practicing a series of simple-yet-efficient exercises, which I will list below.

Breathing Exercises

The first thing you can do in order to restore peace and bring your heartbeat to normal is to become aware of your breathing. When things get nasty for me and my blood sugar is in danger of rising at any minute, I take some time off, lie in my bed or on my couch, play some relaxing lyric-free music, and do breathing exercises. In order to create an even more relaxed environment, I either opt for aromatherapy or for Himalayan salt. If you own a Himalayan salt lamp at home, you can also leave that on, maybe 30 minutes prior to your exercises. Here is more info about its health benefits.

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Back to breathing. I try to focus on my breathing as much as I can, and gradually breathe in and breathe out at a slower pace. Warning: don’t fall asleep, as you may induce yourself into a state of self hypnosis without planning to do so. I usually set a playlist with 10-15 minutes of instrumental music, after which I add more vivid songs with lyrics that are sure to wake me up. You don’t necessarily have to lie down, you can do it in a park, on a bench, or just by sitting in a nice lounge or café. The idea is to have as much comfort as possible and to center your attention on the breathing, not on the people passing by or the background sounds.

Concentration and Deconcentration Exercises

This one is a simple exercise you do in the morning and in the evening.

In the morning. After you wake up, while still lying in bed, close your eyes for 5 minutes, but be careful not to fall asleep again. Then, start counting from 0 to 10. Note that you won’t be just counting the numbers, you’ll also be drawing each number, slowly and in detail, with your mind. Without distractions. It takes time to be able to do it correctly, and if it gets boring with just numbers, try adding shapes, letters, or even an entire equation each morning. It works great by improving single-tasking and increasing the ability to focus.

In the evening. Just as you concentrate, you also have to “deconcentrate” — to disconnect, to undo it. So, at night when lying in bed before falling asleep, take another 5 minutes and count down, from 10 to 0. This time, you’ll be erasing the “drawings” you did in the morning. For extra relaxation, add some “breathe in, breathe out” breaks of 3 breaths for every 3 numbers. It works amazingly for getting a good night’s sleep. And with blood glucose running high in the morning (we call it the “Dawn effect“), you need a good sleep to temper the sugars down. Remember that any aggressive dreams or bad sleeping episodes can send the wrong signals to your liver, which may trigger a release of glucose deposits located in the organ.

Awareness Exercises

This one is also simple: an awareness exercise is something you practice everyday by being extremely conscious about it. For example, drinking your coffee in the morning. Here’s what I like to do:

  1. Go to your favorite café and scan the place. Look for the best seat there is, with the best view.
  2. Sit down, and before pulling out your devices from your bag, just be aware of what is happening next to you.
  3. Smile when the waiter or waitress comes to get your order. Ask them how is their day with a positive tone.
  4. While you wait for the coffee to be served, again, scan the café and notice the people around you. The decor. Look if anything is new, changed, or improved.
  5. Sip your coffee while noticing the taste, the temperature, the texture, the feeling it gives you when you drink it.
  6. Enjoy every last drop of it. And, if preferable, don’t add sweetener or sugar. Just enjoy it bitter and in its natural state.

4. Natural Remedies

While there is a huge debate surrounding the actual benefits of natural remedies for Type 1 Diabetes, I won’t argue in saying that as long as you don’t fully replace your daily insulin dose, you are safe.

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I’ve always treated natural remedies as a way to add more value to your wellbeing, compared to using them as a sole healing method. Not to sound sarcastic, but after 20 years of Diabetes, it’s not like drinking herbal tea or rubbing minty oil will make my pancreas work like new. So, while treating this topic with extra care, here are a few things you can do or eat to balance your diabetes like a boss:

  1. Herbal tea. Go to the countryside or look for organic/bio gardens where people grow their own herbal plants. Make them an offer they can’t refuse and get that stack of healthy benefits. Freshly picked plants from the field, if infused in hot water, usually taste like hay. And that, my friends, is healthy!
  2. Salty and spicy. Don’t be afraid to try salty and spicy — just not in the usual way. Try Himalayan salt lamps, or any “salty” things that burn or melt really slowly, in order to recreate an environment similar to the seaside’s salty breeze. Spicy things are also good, especially if it’s really hot, because it makes you sweat. Did you know that we eliminate sugars and toxins by sweating? Not bad for a diabetic person.
  3. Bitter fruits. There is nothing like eating raw bitter fruits, starting from grapefruit and continuing to wild fruits or (really) green bananas. They have little sugars, which is great for a snack and, in case you didn’t know, everything bitter helps the kidneys. Homemade remedies made by mom, passed down from her mom and grandma, always contained bitter plants and bitter fruits. And they always worked when our kidneys (my dad’s and I) would act finicky.
  4. Raw fruit juices and homemade flavoured water. Keep in mind that fruit juices, even homemade, have more sugars than fruits eaten separately — possibly even doubling the amount of carbs. And that’s where flavored water comes in. As a member of the Diabetes gang, most of the time you end up enjoying something sweet only if your blood sugar is sort of low. Hence, my final “natural remedy” is actually water with different flavors. And since it’s summer, I’m carefully placing pieces of fruits in my ice cube forms, so that I can drink water at a room temperature with fruity ice cubes in it.

Some conclusions of my own after 20 years with “you know what”

I’ve seen cases of people who gave up fighting and just found an excuse in having diabetes — to justify their failures or, even worse, their complete ignorance. I don’t think I mentioned what could be perceived as a limitation when you’re a “D” Entrepreneur. Here is a list I came up with:

  • You need sleep, a quiet environment and a healthy lifestyle
  • You can’t afford to have too much pressure in your life
  • You need to keep your health in check all the time
  • You need positive people to surround you, because being depressed with diabetes is really bad for you
  • You can’t eat too much sugar, too much greasy food, or junk food
  • You have to take a break every now and then, otherwise your body won’t take it
  • It’s ideal that you don’t smoke and keep your alcohol consumption limited
  • You have to undergo regular check-ups
  • People won’t understand you 100 per cent, and you can never expect them to
  • People won’t know what is wrong with you unless you tell them what’s going on
  • You have to stay focused and stick to your program
  • There’s no other way but to live with it
  • It’s difficult if you have a full-time stressful job, because just how much medical leave can you have access to?

If you take a look at it, what diabetes does to you is to send warnings that you have to be in control of your lifestyle, decisions, and choices.

Even a healthy person needs plenty of rest, a healthy way of life, and can’t afford to have too much stress and pressure. Everyone needs a check-up every now and then, and everyone needs positive people around them. Eating junk food is bad for everyone. We all need a break from time to time. We shouldn’t shouldn’t smoke or drink too much alcohol and so on. However, not everyone keeps these things at the forefront of their minds all the time — it all comes with being aware. 

I’ll end this article with a favorite quote from another young entrepreneur, one who touches on the need to not be perfect:

I don’t need a mask. You don’t need a mask. I don’t need to hide my imperfections. I’m human. You’re human.

I think it supports the healthy attitude towards having a “special” thing about yourself, even it it’s a medical condition. I think having diabetes helped me, because I learned that I had to live with it and deal with it. Which proved to be a good principle in my line of work and life in general.

Featured photo credit: [Photo credit: Dialysis Technician Salary] via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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