Controlling Your Health in Times of Uncertainty, with The Hangry Woman

An image of a happy African American woman

This article is a guest post from The Hangry Woman, Mila Clarke Buckley. We’re thrilled to have Mila as a guest author to talk about how she’s proactively working to take back control of her health during times of uncertainty and anxiety. In this article, Mila explores how to:

  1. Manage your Blood Sugar

  2. Limit Your Time in Public Places

  3. Pay Attention to Your Mood, Stress Levels, and Feelings

  4. Get Plenty of Rest

  5. Pay Attention to Your Gut Health

Over the last few months, COVID-19 has been on all of our minds. We’re all making sacrifices while practicing social isolation, and the anxiety of the pandemic is palpable.

It’s especially top of mind for those of us with preexisting conditions.

As a person living with type 2 diabetes, I’m already at higher risk for complications whenever I get sick. But, I’m at even greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19 if I were to be infected. 

In fact, diabetes is near the top of the list of ‘underlying conditions’ with potential severe complications from COVID-19, trailing only cardiovascular disease.

A chart showing death rate for serious coronavirus cases
Image credit: LA Times

Additionally, as a black woman, I’ve been thinking a lot about the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on the African American community.

So many factors — including long-standing systemic issues like lack of access to quality healthcare and socioeconomic challenges — have led to a devastating impact on black and brown communities.

I’ve always been aware of my increased risk for other illnesses like the flu. But, learning about how COVID-19 affects people with chronic illnesses and people of color has made me want to take even better care of myself and my family. 

I’ll be honest. Things haven’t been perfect for me during this period, and this new way of living has pushed me to adapt in ways I hadn’t anticipated. 

Rather than ramping up my anxiety, though, I’ve been trying to focus on ways to flip the script and asked myself: what are some things I can do right now to remain in control of my health in a situation that feels uncontrollable? 

Here are five suggestions that you can put into practice to reduce your risk of complications: 

Manage your Blood Sugar

A picture of a woman testing her blood sugar

This seems so obvious, but managing blood sugar is the first step you can take to ensuring you reduce your overall risk for complications. 

In general, it’s crucial to keep your blood sugars around the recommended 70 mg/dL (at fasting) and up to 180 mg/dL (two hours after you eat). Staying in those ranges ensures that your blood sugars are within your goals, putting you at less risk for diabetes complications. 

It’s also important to note that while diabetes complications from COVID-19 are very concerning, so are other diabetes complications like strokes, amputations or diabetic ketoacidosis. 

My advice is to be extra vigilant about controlling your blood sugar during this time of uncertainty. 

Any complications that could land you in the emergency room are a heightened risk for you and others during these times. 

Limit Your Time in Public Places

Practically all of us are living with some level of social isolation mandate. 

But even if your local city or town is starting to lift its shelter-in-place orders, it’s still important to limit any risky outings, and crowds of people who may not be able to practice social distancing, or wear protective items like masks.

I’ve limited my trips to a few, necessary places: the grocery store (when delivery isn’t available), evening walks with my husband and our dogs, and that’s it. 

My neighbors have also been gracious enough to ask if we need anything when they’re making a trip to the store. It helps me limit my exposure. 

It’s helped provide me peace of mind and kept me safe. I also suggest returning the favor and asking your neighbors if they need anything when you do need to venture out. 

It’s a good thing to pay it forward.

Pay Attention to Your Mood, Stress Levels, and Feelings

Our moods and feelings play an important role in managing diabetes. Stressful situations can often raise blood sugar, so I’m paying extra attention to my stress levels these days. 

Whether or not you are living with diabetes, managing stress is crucial during this pandemic.

I’ve learned that stress is directly correlated to your immune system, so it’s in all of our best interest to try and find some inner peace during these uncertain times.

I like to take a few minutes to breathe each day and step away from my screens for a break. Some other ideas are meditation, yoga, exercise, journaling or just getting outside for a breath of fresh air a few times per day.

Get Plenty of Rest

What we’re all going through right now is heavy. I’ve noticed that I have needed more rest to get through each day given the natural levels of anxiety and stress that we’re all experiencing right now. 

But you know what?  That’s OK. If you feel like you need to sleep for an extra 30 minutes or take a midday nap, it’s a part of your self-care.

Pay Attention to Your Gut Health 

I’ve learned a lot recently about how your gut is the control center of your health. What most people don’t know is that good health starts with your gut. 

There are trillions of microbes living in your gut that help you stay healthy. By delivering the right nutrients to the beneficial bacteria in your gut at the right time, you can positively manage your gut health. 

A woman chopping a cucumber

One of the best ways to feed your gut is by consuming foods that are packed with prebiotic fibers.

Since improving your gut health is so important to your overall health, when you take care of your gut you’ll also experience other health benefits like in-range blood sugar and strengthened immunity. 

Although it can be difficult to balance our health in a stressful situation, we still have to pay attention to our bodies. 

With the right combination of diet, activity, and awareness of our gut health, we can mitigate any potential complications we may be facing. These are a few steps we can take to regain control in a time of uncertainty.

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