Managing diabetes can be challenging and at times you may feel overwhelmed. You’ve probably been asked to check your blood sugar multiple times each day, eat healthy, exercise regularly, remember to take your medicine, and make other good decisions about your health multiple times every day. You might also have to worry about your blood sugar dropping too low or rising too high, the cost of your diabetes medications, and developing diabetes complications. It’s exhausting just reading that list let alone living it!
In our free monthly Diabetes Support Group on March 9, we’ll go over the ins and outs of what diabetes distress is, how to tell if you are experiencing diabetes distress, and what you can do to better cope with the symptoms of diabetes burnout. Read on for a sample of what we’ll discuss in our virtual support group and sign up for the event at the bottom of this article!
What Is Diabetes Distress?
When frustration builds and it feels like you have too much to deal with, you may be experiencing something called diabetes distress.
Diabetes distress (a.k.a. diabetes burnout) is a common and natural reaction to looking after diabetes all day, every day. Diabetes distress is when a person feels frustrated, angry, or overwhelmed by diabetes, whether it be their own disease or the condition of someone under their care.
Diabetes distress is not the same as depression, however, diabetes distress can turn into depression if you continue to have these feelings and they aren’t going away.
What Are The Signs Of Diabetes Distress?
There are several signs of diabetes distress that you need to be aware of so you can stay on top of both your disease management and your mental health.
6 Signs of Diabetes Distress:
- Feeling angry about diabetes & frustrated with diabetes management
- Avoiding going to follow-up appointments
- Skipping medication doses
- Avoiding blood sugar monitoring
- Making unhealthy food choices regularly
- Feeling alone and isolated
If you or a loved one with diabetes experience any of the following symptoms, we’ve outlined 11 mechanisms you can and should use to cope with your suspected diabetes distress below.
How to Cope with Diabetes Distress
If you feel like you’re experiencing diabetes distress, it’s important to remember that it also happens to others and you shouldn’t blame yourself. Diabetes can be challenging to manage. Luckily, there are things you can do cope with diabetes distress. Here are 10 Tips for Coping with Diabetes Distress from the CDC plus an extra tip from us that will not only help you with diabetes distress, but with all aspects of diabetes management:
1. Pay Attention To Your Feelings
Almost everyone feels frustrated or stressed from time to time. Dealing with diabetes can add to these feelings and make you feel overwhelmed. Having these feelings for more than a week or two may signal that you need help coping with your diabetes so that you can feel better.
2. Talk with your health care providers about your feelings
Let your doctor, nurse, diabetes educator, psychologist, or social worker know how you’ve been feeling. They can help you problem-solve your concerns about diabetes. They may also suggest that you speak with other health care providers to get help.
3. Talk to your health care providers about negative reactions other people may have about your diabetes
Your health care providers can help you manage feelings of being judged by others because you have diabetes. It is important not to feel that you have to hide your diabetes from other people.
4. Ask if help is available for the costs of diabetes medicines and supplies
If you are worried about the cost of your medicines, talk with your pharmacist and other health care providers. They may know about government or other programs that can assist people with costs. You can also check with community health centers to see if they know about programs that help people get insulin, diabetes medicines, and supplies (test trips, syringes, etc.).
5. Talk with your family and friends
Tell those closest to you how you feel about having diabetes. Be honest about the problems you’re having in dealing with diabetes. Just telling others how you feel helps to relieve some of the stress. However, sometimes the people around you may add to your stress. Let them know how and when you need them to help you.
6. Allow loved ones to help you take care of your diabetes
Those closest to you can help you in several ways. They can remind you to take your medicines, help monitor your blood sugar levels, join you in being physically active, and prepare healthy meals. They can also learn more about diabetes and go with you when you visit your doctor. Ask your loved ones to help with your diabetes in ways that are useful to you.
7. Talk to other people with diabetes
Other people with diabetes understand some of the things you are going through. Ask them how they deal with their diabetes and what works for them. They can help you feel less lonely and overwhelmed. Ask your health care providers about diabetes support groups in your community or online.
8. Do one thing at a time
When you think about everything you need to do to manage your diabetes, it can be overwhelming. To deal with diabetes distress, make a list of all of the tasks you have to do to take care of yourself each day. Try to work on each task separately, one at a time.
9. Pace yourself
As you work on your goals, like increasing physical activity, take it slowly. You don’t have to meet your goals immediately. Your goal may be to walk 10 minutes, three times a day each day of the week, but you can start by walking two times a day or every other day.
10. Take time to do things you enjoy
Give yourself a break! Set aside time in your day to do something you really love; it could be calling a friend, playing a game with your children or grandchildren, or working on a fun project. Find out about activities near you that you can do with a friend.
11. Join a Diabetes Support Group
Diabetes Distress is a common condition that occurs in those who either live with diabetes or care for someone with diabetes. A Diabetes Support Group is a great place to get tips and tricks on how to manage all aspects of diabetes! From learning what to do when you have a diabetic wound to healthy lifestyle changes that can make help you live your best life with diabetes, a Diabetes Support Group is a great tool for anyone living with the disease.
At NMC Health, we offer a free Diabetes Support Group every month with tons of tips and tricks for managing your diabetes.
Our next Diabetes Support Group will be held virtually on Thursday, March 9 at 11 a.m. via zoom. We’ll continue discussing how to identify diabetes distress and we’ll go through the many support options available to you. Register below!