New Beginnings Mini-Lesson: Mindfulness Strategies

Key points

  • As many as 1 in 3 adults with diabetes report feeling negative emotions such as stress, guilt, anxiety, sadness, and anger because of their condition.
  • This feeling is sometimes called diabetes distress.
  • Recognizing these feelings and taking steps to manage them can have a positive effect on a person's quality of life.


Discussion time: 15 minutes

  • Identifying feelings about diabetes.
  • Learning strategies for managing diabetes distress.
  • Increasing self-awareness through mindfulness.
  • Reducing stress through meditation.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Use mindfulness to increase self-awareness of feelings and actions.
  • Understand the benefits of meditation and how it relates to diabetes distress.
  • Commit to one mindfulness or meditation activity to try for 1 week.

Important note to group leaders: You don't have to practice meditation or mindfulness yourself to use this mini-lesson with your participants. This lesson is about leading a discussion, not being an expert.

Discussion questions

  • Can you recall times when you have felt diabetes distress?
  • How do you know when you are feeling this way?
  • Have you tried anything to make you feel better?
  • What is one area of your life where you think you could take time to be more mindful?

Mini-lesson activity


There are many ways to meditate. Many people think of meditation as sitting on the floor with your legs crossed, but there are many other ways like:

  • Guided meditation that focuses on breathing, stress reduction, and deep relaxation. There are free guided meditations available online and in apps.
  • Mindfulness meditations like journaling, spending time in nature, and taking time to pause and think.
  • Mantra meditations using repetitive sounds or sayings to clear the mind and refocus on goals.

Mindful eating

This activity helps you pause and get to know the food you are eating. It starts by selecting one food to pay attention to. It's easier to pick a food that doesn't have a lot of different flavors. Once you have selected the food, follow these steps:

  1. Notice the taste of the food in the first bite. For example, is it sweet, salty, spicy?
  2. Completely chew and swallow slowly.
  3. Take another bite. Does the taste change as you continue eating? Do you enjoy it more, less, or the same as you continue to eat it?

When we focus on the food we're eating, we can better recognize when we're hungry or full.


Make an “I’m grateful for…” list. Write down 5 to 10 things that you’re grateful for. Reminding ourselves of the positive parts of life helps us be more grounded and self-aware.

How to use this mini lesson

This lesson has resources and questions to lead a small group discussion with people who have diabetes. It can be used as part of an existing class or as a stand-alone activity.

This discussion can be led by:

  • A diabetes care and education specialist.
  • A health educator.
  • A community health worker.
  • Anyone with experience leading support groups.

Key messages

Diabetes distress is a way to describe the range of feelings that you may have about your diabetes. For example, you may feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, scared, stressed, guilty, or angry.

Before you can try to manage or reduce these feelings, you need to be aware of them. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your feelings and how you can focus on more positive feelings.

There are many ways to be mindful or meditate. Emotional benefits of either of these practices can include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations.
  • Building skills to manage stress.
  • Increasing self-awareness.
  • Focusing on the present.
  • Reducing negative emotions.
  • Increasing patience.

Going virtual tips

Take a few minutes at the beginning of the session to explain the ground rules for virtual sessions. For example:

  • Mute video or phone when not speaking.
  • Say your name before speaking (especially on the phone).
  • Participants are not required to have or use a video camera. They can use a photo of themselves instead.

Play a short music clip (1 to 2 minutes) to begin or end your session with quiet meditation time. You can also find sample online meditation activities to try together as a group.