Scott talks with Molly, Kristen, and Maggie about the expectations and realities of coping with a global pandemic in this episode of Coaches Corner with Scott K. Johnson.
Let's discuss why you should give yourself a break! Focus on accomplishments in your day, whether that means getting yourself up in the morning, taking a shower, cooking dinner, or finishing a book.
Click here for PART 2 of the discussion.
- It's OKAY to give yourself a break
- How to view self-care
- Focus on accomplishments
- Mental/emotional stress
Scott K. Johnson - Hey, welcome to another episode of Coaches Corner. Thanks for sharing some of your time with us today, it is so nice to see you again. Listen, a lot has changed over the past few weeks. These are challenging and stressful times for almost everyone. We are full of gratitude and appreciation for everyone doing their part to get through this. One small way mySugr can give back is by hosting these short conversations with our diabetes coaches to talk about staying healthy in body and mind during these unusual times. Today, I have the pleasure of chatting with Molly, Kristen and Maggie about how we're all coping with what's going on right now. Let's jump right into it. Hey everyone, we've got the whole group together and we wanted to just get together and talk a little bit about how are we feeling, do a little mindset check. And there's a lot going on here we're feeling a lot of pressure, we're getting a lot of information, a lot of do this, don't do this, worry about this, don't worry about that. And it's just like, how about we take a minute to just check in and see how we're all doing and maybe acknowledge the fact that it's okay to not feel okay, all the time. Molly, can you talk to us a little bit about what we're thinking with this.
Molly Wagman - Yeah, so I have been hearing from so many people loved ones, some of my patients, and it's just I hear I feel anxious, I feel sad, I feel lonely, I feel just uncertain and that feeling alone is overwhelming. And that just completely interrupts your your daily life. Like when you're feeling these things, which a lot of us are feeling right now, it can completely interrupt your daily life. And a lot of times I'm seeing now recently too that there's a lot of health coaches and people in the health and wellness sphere that are saying, okay, you have all this time at home now, or you're staying at home, it's now time to get on top of your health and do all these great things for your physical and your mental health, like meditate and now you can get started on your business, and you can stay organized. And I often feel like this has a lot to take on in this moment.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, it absolutely is a lot to take on and a lot to worry about, a lot to just process and think about just in general. Maggie how are you feeling right now with everything going on and adjusting to this new normal.
Maggie Evans - I'd say I'm very much in line with what Molly was talking about, just feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious, and I'm getting that both from my patients as well, and I think, playing along with what Molly was talking about before, where we have all of this uninterrupted time now and there are people saying that we have to do more with that time. So start that business, start meditating, do all these things. And I think just our society, we thrive on productivity and when that's taken away in a way, or maybe we just don't want to be productive with that guilt can be there and it can be hard for us to process but understanding with the realm of everything going on with an actual pandemic going on with the economic situation with where it's at. Like there's a lot of stress going on for a lot of people so starting a new habit is already stressful in itself. And to add more on to that, it's just, I keep telling my patients, it's okay, it's okay not to do something, it's okay to sit on your couch or read that book or do something for you. And there's that phrase, "It's okay to not be okay, right now," I think really rings true.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, I think that's a it's a really powerful thing to acknowledge and give ourselves the space to just cope in healthy ways with everything that's going on. Kristen how has it been for you lately and how are you dealing with all the changes and stresses happening?
Kristen Bourque - Yeah, I think I would definitely piggyback on what Maggie and Molly are saying too. I think it's hard because also a lot of us thrive on structure and many of us have lost jobs or just even the littlest things like going to the grocery store, it's become this very stressful task that takes a lot of our mental, what's the word I'm looking for, but it just takes a lot out of us. So I think that even though we're trying so much to have this quote unquote, new normal, there really isn't such a thing. So I think it's important that we give ourselves a little grace during this time and just trying to do the basic necessities to focus on trying to again take care of ourselves like getting ready for the day or like Maggie said even just doing a little comfort like reading a book, something that makes us feel good, because this isn't the time like she was saying to start all these new tasks is just doing the very basic things because a lot of us have extra things thrown at us, the people that are working from home plus have to homeschool their kids you know, that's a lot, it's a lot of extra stress.
Scott K. Johnson - I mean, I think on one level with all that's going on, I think we know that it's okay to feel the way we're feeling to some degree but do any of you feel a level of guilt or like just feel like you should be doing better than how you're doing and struggle with that at all?
Molly Wagman - Absolutely. I haven't left the house once today I have dogs to walk, but you know what it's been a little bit rainy, feel a little bit dreary and I feel like my normal routine has been interrupted and I couldn't muster it. I just had a little bit is feeling exhausted to even just get out there, and I feel I feel a little bit guilty about that for sure.
Maggie Evans - I would have to agree, I do too. You know, I'm normally up by 5:30 or 6:00 every day and like, get a workout in things like that. And like, right now it's a struggle to even the roll out of bed by seven and get things going. Something that's helped me to is reframing what I view as being self care, as well as just what can help me feel a little bit better about what I'm doing and even something is like taking a shower to me right now, I'm like, yep, that's self care, that's something I'm sure my boyfriend doesn't want to be around me if I smell or anything like that so it's just little things like that I think are what's helping me just like, okay, accomplish that today, can I do something else just small to keep moving forward in a way, I think it's helpful.
Kristen Bourque - I think.
Kristen Bourque - Sorry.
Molly Wagman - Go ahead Kristen.
Kristen Bourque - I think it's hard too because this is nothing we've ever experienced. So we all don't really know how to navigate this situation and I think all of us have had good days and bad days. And I think it's, like Maggie said, the simplest things just showering for the day, I think is just important to take care of our even basic needs at this point in time because, again, there is this idea of a lot of us are struggling with that grief where we don't know when it's going to end and try and just make it through these days that seem quite what do they call it, groundhog day, day over and over again. So I think it's also important just to kind of, again, just get to those basics sometimes and feel the way we're feeling too and not trying to just put on a smile too either.
Molly Wagman - Yeah, exactly and I think just what Kristen, what Maggie what you said it's also now time to celebrate the little wins and things that you do accomplish and focus on the things that you did do that day, no matter how small whether that's taking a shower, making your bed or making breakfast for your kids, you fed your dogs, maybe you went out and you did go to the grocery store to the pharmacy, instead of focusing on the things that you didn't do that you were hoping that you would do like finish that book or start your quilting project or finish that that project at work.
Scott K. Johnson - You know mentioning the whole Groundhog Day topic really it rings so true right now so, one of our colleagues in Vienna was talking about, she's having a lot of trouble remembering if she's taken her basal or long-lasting insulin, because every day feels so much like the next. And they're all just starting to blend into each other. And I don't think I really realized how much that rings true for me until I listened to her talk about that. And, it's like losing track of what day of the week it is until I see like, my pillbox or have a certain scheduled meeting or something like that and then looking forward to the weekends only to realize like, okay, my weekends now look very much like my weekdays. And so there's just a lot of that happening right now.
Molly Wagman - There's yesterday, there's today and there's tomorrow. There's like there's no more days of the week. It's just three days now and yeah, I feel like what was said earlier. Humans are such creatures of habit and especially when you're living with a chronic illness, especially with diabetes, where your schedule is important even if you have flexibility like if you're on therapies that make it flexible for you with your timing of eating and exercise, having a routine is helpful. And when that's interrupted and you're not able to establish something new or feel comfortable with that, it can throw you off physically I know my blood sugars are in places I haven't seen them before, and then also just mentally getting there back to that that mental space.
Kristen Bourque - I think we have... oh, Sorry, I keep interrupting around today, but I think it's true you know, this new normal and what I found helpful for me and it's funny that you say Scott because I've actually done better during the work week. It seems then the weekend like you said because I think we don't have those those fun things to look forward to but I will say something that's helped me is trying to have a little bit more structure in my day, and like you said is getting ready and things, because it does help a little bit maintain a little bit more normalcy than just having this just abyss basically. So that's another good thing to keep in mind for those that are struggling a little bit with that.
Scott K. Johnson - Another little trick that I'm going to try is, saving a small treat for myself, such as cooking a meal that I'm looking forward to or watching a movie that I really want to watch versus all the bad movies that just helped me pass the time like saving these types of events, maybe for a special day of the week or a weekend or something like that to help delineate things a little bit better. I think that that sounds like a helpful idea for me.
Kristen Bourque - I love that.
Scott K. Johnson - How about the lack of physical in like contact with our friends and family and just being being so isolated all the time, how is that affecting people?
Molly Wagman - I'm a hugger, so whenever I see my friends or my family, we're always hugging and saying when we say hello, and there's actually there's a lot of research that shows that physical touch actually destresses us, it calms us. So I feel like I am feeling that now I am just craving for a little bit of human contact. So I'm not dealing with that personally very well.
Maggie Evans - I think it's also great. Oh, go for it.
Kristen Bourque - I think it's also weird, like, going for walks or runs. It's like this new like Pac-Man trying to avoid someone out of the way, when you really think about it, like this is a strange time that we're in that we are going out of our way. You know, again, it's nice to have a head nod or wave but again, new normal, I keep saying that, but it's true that we are trying to avoid people when, like you said, Molly, we normally would embrace them and not have to run the opposite direction. Strange.
Maggie Evans - Seems like our physical sense of community may be different, so same thing like we have this long rec trail that I go walk on or run on daily, and I'm noticing people literally going all the way across the street to avoid people it is shocking to see but noticing that communication is picking up in other ways too. So I don't know if anyone's seen on like their Instagram or their other social feeds like all these like Zoom hangouts, these different methods, FaceTime, thankfully we do have that technology and that ability to communicate and sometimes I find too, and I think Molly brought this up the other day, we are talking about it, that it's almost overwhelming the amount of contacts that were getting from people. If we feel like we have to recharge alone at times, and there's this constant incoming call of FaceTime or Zoom, and people wanting to connect, I think everyone's struggling with that lack of physical connection. Thankfully yet again, we do have those other channels, but that can also be somewhat overwhelming in itself too.
Molly Wagman - Yeah.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, absolutely I think that I would also say that we at mySugr are going to include us in this but everyone out there is trying to find ways to help and contribute and find their unique way to help build that connection back in and I'm glad that the three of you are so willing to share your time. I think it's useful and valuable and as we do more of these and hear back from people who are watching we'll improve on it and find ways to make it more valuable and more helpful for people. But I definitely notice when I go out, make my grocery runs or whatever that, I feel on edge and when I'm leaving the house it's a stressful event. Molly, can you talk a little bit about, there's a stress scale and what we're going through right now and what many people are experiencing it ranks very high on those lists, right?
Molly Wagman - Right. So there's a few different types of stress. There's the physical stress, which can happen if you have a physical injury or playing a sport and you break a bone that's stress on your body. And then there's also the mental and emotional stress, which is what we typically think of when we are talking about stress. And on stress.org, that's the website. If you go to stress.org, there is a stress inventory checklist and it has a list of about 50 items so these are events in your life that could be situational, familial, it could be financial, anything like that there's big life events that can cause a lot of stress. And these different events, you can tally up and get a stress score. And in the top 20, a lot of us are experiencing several things within those top 20 most stressful life events. So it's just a reminder that we're all in this together, we're all feeling some kind of really high stress situation and again, like it's okay to not be okay right now.
Scott K. Johnson - And when you talk about that, in that stress score it dealing with several many of us are dealing with several items all at once. Typically, even just one event at a time is enough to throw everything off kilter. And I know I see pretty dramatic impacts on my blood sugar's when I'm dealing with even a moderate or low level of stress. So this this has an effect on diabetes, right? Can you guys talk a little bit about stress and diabetes and blood sugars and that kind of thing too?
Molly Wagman - Yeah, so with with emotional stress and again, a physical stress, there's certain hormones that are released like cortisol and adrenaline, and they really amp up our body to be able to fight or flight. And these things are happening for us right now and it can cause blood sugars to increase, but it can also cause us unpredictability. And I know that I've seen that in my own blood sugars and I know Kristen and Maggie, have you seen that with some of your patients that you've coached and that you see.
Kristen Bourque - Definitely.
Maggie Evans - Yep.
Molly Wagman - Yeah.
Scott K. Johnson - There's one piece of it, which is just to say, like, listen this is not something you're doing wrong, this is an expected thing right now. And well, it's good to pay attention and do what you can to address it, part of it is, is going to be just out of your control, but what are some things that people might be able to do to help deal with this?
Kristen Bourque - I would definitely say trying to incorporate some sort of movement, just because also I think, as hard as it is, we are encouraged to stay inside so, if you're able to, obviously, weather willing, is some sort of movement not only the fresh air but the sunlight, if you haven't, I'm in Chicago so it goes back and forth there, but it does wonders and that's also going to be a benefit to your blood sugar and also helping to again, minimize that stress a little bit even if it's just temporarily. So I think been encouraging, again, the mySugr users to try to incorporate some sort of movement if they're able to because I think that's a huge factor.
Maggie Evans - I'm a big advocate for maintaining balanced eating as best we can 'cause I know especially during these times, if we're working from home or maybe our schedules off, maybe I sleep in 'til nine or 10, so I'm not eating breakfast, no lunches, kind of thrown off too, as much as we can continuing that consistency in our meals and especially those balanced meals 'cause that's just going to be one piece that's going to help balance blood sugar throughout the day, even if we have that variability, it's just going to be one piece that's going to be a little bit easier to manage. So get that complex carb in, get a little protein in, a veggie in if we can, but as much as we can getting that consistency throughout the day and eating.
Molly Wagman - Yeah, and I really like some meditation or yoga type of things to de stress and it doesn't take long to do some of those things. So you can just like stretch, you can look up a relaxing yoga video on YouTube, you can put your feet up against the wall, like if you lay down on the floor and just put your feet up so your legs are perpendicular, it's like just a couple minutes of something like that can give you a sense of peace in your day. But find what your jam is. It doesn't have to be one of these things, you have to find what works for you.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, I love...
Kristen Bourque - Cuddling cats or dogs works also very well.
Molly Wagman - Little puppy kisses.
Kristen Bourque - Yeah, highly recommend.
Scott K. Johnson - I like that too. Although the dogs in my house are a special case as I glance around to the chaos.
Kristen Bourque - That's been the hardest that six feet social distance from like, I saw that the cutest puppy the other day, I was like, Oh my gosh, I wish I could go near him but that's hard but if you have your own that's always good.
Scott K. Johnson - It's true, that's true. All right, so we are splitting the conversation up with the coaches into two parts. So join us again on Wednesday at 3:00pm to wrap up the conversation where we'll cover some coping mechanisms and methods, things like reframing. Molly also talks a little bit about some tools on a website called stress.org, where there's a stress scale was really enlightening to hear about how dealing with any number of things that are on this stress scale can be traumatic, but we are in fact many of us are dealing with multiple items on that stress scale. So there are things that we can do when dealing with these uncertain times that can help. So she also has a special message for those who are dealing with things that are affecting your employment and income, things like that so we'll share some resources around that. So I hope that you'll join us again, Wednesday afternoon 3:00pm pacific time. Thanks again for joining us this afternoon and special thanks to all of you out there doing your part to help us get through this. We got some great questions and feedback coming in, we'll be sure to circle back with the coaches and get some input on those and get those questions answered for you. So thanks again and we will see you next time.
Click here for PART 2 of the discussion.