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Good News: Guided Imagery Really Does Make a Dent on Diabetes

10 Nov

The past two decades have seen an explosion of research linking simple stress reduction practices with improved outcomes for people with diabetes.

Guided imagery, hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, breath work, acupuncture, yoga, reiki, qigong, biofeedback, mindful walking – there's quite a list. All seem to improve blood chemistry and promote greater well being. And guided imagery is particularly user friendly, practical and effective for people managing the everyday challenges of diabetes.

The reasons are pretty obvious. Stress increases the flow of cortisol and other stress hormones in the bloodstream, and they in turn increase insulin resistance, the production of bad cholesterol, hypertension and a host of other unattractive health outcomes.

And of all these methods, guided imagery is also the only one that's been found to promote greater motivation for sticking with self-care – always an issue for people with diabetes, because it's so critical to manage eating and activity, but such a nuisance.

diabetes-reportPeople get easily discouraged and can fall back into old patterns of unhealthy eating and couch-potato living. So the fact that guided imagery can reduce the depression, sluggishness and compulsive eating that can accompany diabetes is very good news.

And people don't even have to like listening to guided imagery for it to work. They can be totally unenthusiastic and barely attentive – hell, they can be asleep during the whole time it's playing - and it will still make a dent on blood chemistry.

So consider this list recapping guided imagery's benefits and ease of use.... Pretty compelling if you ask me:

  • Lowers hemoglobin A1C
  • Reduces blood glucose, in the short and long term
  • Helps with circulation and neuropathy
  • Raises endorphin levels, which decrease pain, lift mood
  • Enhances feelings of empowerment, hope, mastery
  • Supports adherence to the difficult demands of a daily regimen
  • It can be uploaded to phone or MP3 and used anywhere
  • Listeners don't need to be educated, focused, motivated, smart or even awake to benefit from playing imagery.
  • Perfect for reducing anxiety-based behaviors, like eating, smoking or drinking, which make matters worse

So, do consider this diabetes imagery for yourself or somebody you care about. One possible outcome is that it can reduce the need for medication – and that in and of itself can improve energy, well-being and outlook.

We also have a special free report on offer that was distributed at last year's AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) annual professional conference. You are welcome to download that information as well.

Take care and be well.

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.