Stress Management & The 5 Second Rule
You may be wondering what stress management has to do with diabetes…
Because it would seem that stress is a mind thing and diabetes is a body thing…right?
Managing your diabetes effectively and putting it into remission requires that you pay attention to the three primary domains of your health: what your mind is doing, what you are putting in your body, and how you are moving.
Stress causes many different chemical reactions and interactions. Stress actually blocks insulin. In most people, but especially people with diabetes, stress has been demonstrated in clinical research to increase glucose levels. Stress also affects your brain’s ability to remember things, think clearly, and follow through on goals and tasks that you have set for yourself. And, not having solid coping skills can cause you to make poor nutrition choices when you are in the middle of a stressful situation.
Let’s consider this example:
You didn’t sleep well the night before. That automatically sets you up for an increase in stress, more than you might expect. You are in a rush to get out the door, get your kids off to school or get to work on time. You work with tired and frustrated co-workers and bosses…or maybe you’re dealing with frustrated kids or a partner. You find you often have to work through your lunch break instead of taking time to mindfully eat things with healthy choices…so you join the office pool of lunch take out orders. Let’s say you get a salad or something else that’s semi-whole food, semi healthy. You find out that a customer is upset. You end up working late. You are tired and stressed. You forgot to go to the store before getting home. You come home to a house full of also stressed and grumpy people who are demanding dinner! You know you don’t want to get fast food, so you agree to go to the store. You are stuck in traffic and eventually find yourself at a crowded and harried grocery store. You skim the aisles looking for the simplest items you can get to feed the jerks you might be dealing with at home. You put some lettuce and tomatoes in the cart. Maybe some cheese. Some ready-prepared meat. You’re going through the store. And then it happens. You find yourself standing in front of an aisle end-cap on aisle 7, featuring beautifully colored boxes of Moon Pies and Little Debbie cakes, alongside giant bags of Doritos that just happen to be on sale, within eye’s view from the coke aisle.
And you feel the impulse, and the little voice in your brain that whispers, “Wouldn’t it taste good? Aww c’mon, what’s it really gonna hurt? No one will know. Its just once.”
And you find yourself battling in your head with your right arm that wants to grab these things and throw them in the cart. So here, the stress causes you to rethink your health decisions. How incredibly powerful is that?
So…perhaps many times in the past, you’ve grabbed the junk and thrown it in. What is it that stops you from stopping yourself?
I can tell you, its not a lack of motivation. Its your response to your feelings. Feelings are not facts, and many times we may not feel like doing the healthy thing. In fact my fellow coach and she-hero Mel Robbins says “you’re never going to “feel like it”.
The thing here is having a specific action that you do when you get into these moments that will help you build consistency.
Enter Mel Robbins’ 5-Second Rule.
Some of you may have heard of this before. For those who have, I’m so glad!
For those that haven’t, let me take a moment to explain.
The 5-Second Rule is ridiculously simple. And extremely effective.
When you have an impulse to make a decision about something-to do or not do, say or not say, and so forth, you have literally five seconds to pair that impulse with a physical action. That’s it. 5 seconds. This has in fact been proven via scientific studies. After 5 seconds, your brain pulls what Coach Mel likes to call the “emergency brake” so that you do the opposite, more comfortable thing.
So how does this work?
When you find yourself having those cravings, those impulses to indulge unhealthy habits, you must count backwards 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 and then move. In the case of the grocery store impulse to throw junk in your cart, you have 5 seconds to walk away from the junk and into the produce section. In the case of fast food and choosing between the burger fries and coke to choosing the salad with lemon water. In the case of thinking “hey I should take a walk” you have 5 seconds to physically get your butt up out of the chair and make your legs and feet move.
So, for the next 3 days, how about giving this a try? Anytime you feel you want to do something that you know you shouldn’t do, 5-4-3-2-1 yourself! Anytime you get the impulse to not do something, you have 5 seconds to move out of the situation. Try it. You will be amazed at what you catch yourself thinking. When you finally see these things, you will be able to make major progress in many areas of your life, even beyond managing your diabetes.
So lets get started shall we? I look forward to hearing about your progress and what you learned with this exercise on our Facebook Fan Page, which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/diahub.org
And in case no one told you today, we love you and you are amazing and special to the world, even if you don’t believe it just yet.