Successful self-management is a vital part of living with a chronic condition and emotional well-being has a big impact on your ability for self-care. There are constant demands and concerns about the future that factor into your ability to cope. Healthy coping means having a positive attitude towards managing your condition and positive relationships with others. It’s the first step on the road to reaching your health goals.
It’s important to find healthy ways to cope so you don’t turn to harmful habits such as smoking, overeating, drinking or alcohol. This is especially true if you have diabetes. Having a lot of stress can increase your blood glucose (sugar) levels, make you feel more negative and may lead to less healthy choices.
There are many healthy ways to cope with stress. A diabetes specialist such as a healthcare provider or diabetes educator will help you find healthy ways to cope that work with your lifestyle, including:
Seek support It’s important to have a network of people you can turn to. Attending diabetes education classes or a diabetes support group can help you both manage your diabetes and better cope with your feelings. Take the time to build healthy bonds that work for you and support you in your journey. Remember that you are not alone!
Move your body When you are sad or worried about something, go for a walk or bike ride. Research shows when you are active; your brain releases chemicals that make you feel better.
Think positive It may sound too simple but having a positive attitude really helps. Think about and celebrate the successes you’ve had managing diabetes (even small ones). Think about the people and activities in your life that make it enjoyable. Recalling the good stuff will help you get through the tough times.
Be good to yourself It’s important to feel good about your successes. But it’s also important not to beat yourself up if you fall short of a goal. Maybe you’re expecting too much. Maybe you’re trying to change things that are beyond your control. Do the best you can, look at what worked and what didn’t, and then move on. Do something that you enjoy every day.
Everyone has good days and bad days. It’s normal to feel discouraged from time to time. Sometimes, however, the stress or overwhelming feelings you’re having are a sign of something bigger. It is helpful to talk to your physician or one of our diabetes specialist, or a mental health expert. Tell them about your feelings, especially if you:
Lack interest or pleasure in activities
Sleep most of the day or not able to sleep
Don’t see the value in taking care of yourself
Feel as though diabetes is defeating you or that you can’t take care of yourself
The most important thing is to realize that help is available. Your diabetes educator, your provider, and your support systems such as your family and friends are there for you. They can help you problem solve any self-care issues you are having in order to lower your stress and improve your ability to cope.