Eight ways to stress less.
"I can't take it anymore. I hate counting carbs, testing my blood, and worrying about my health. I wish I could return to the life that I had before I was diagnosed with diabetes." – Chris
Diabetes can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, you can't hop on a plane and leave it at home for a while – it goes with you wherever you go. Here are a few steps that you can take to help reduce your stress level:
- Put your diabetes into a healthy perspective.
Having diabetes is upsetting, but unlike most other medical conditions, diabetes can improve if you take good care of yourself.
- Have realistic expectations.
Diabetes doesn't always behave as expected, so don't demand perfect blood sugar control. Just do your best and remember that an occasional high blood sugar level won't cause complications to develop. Complications start to develop after blood sugar levels remain high for an extended period of time – months or even years.
- Adjust your schedule.
Is your workload too challenging? Are you volunteering for activities that you don't really care about? Drop commitments that take up too much of your time. And try to get to bed at a reasonable hour - it is much easier to handle life's stresses when you are well rested. If you want to take a nap during the day, don't rest longer than twenty to forty minutes or you may have a difficult time falling asleep later that evening.
- Avoid stressful foods.
Caffeine and nicotine can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but it can interfere with your sleep later during the night.
- Turn off the news before bedtime.
Upsetting news can interfere with your ability to enjoy a good night's sleep. Stop watching the news at least an hour prior to bedtime. Instead, listen to soothing music or watch an entertaining comedy.
- Keep your blood sugar level in a healthy range.
Blood sugar swings can cause you to experience a physical stress and may affect your moods. As mentioned above, don't worry if your blood sugar level isn't perfect. Just do your best to keep it in the range that is recommended by your health care team. If you have difficulty doing this, speak to your health provider. There are many options available to help you accomplish this goal.
- Enjoy some "you" time.
Treat yourself to something special each day – take a brief bubble bath, sit in a quiet area and listen to soothing music, meditate, or even do a bit of yoga. Pamper yourself and relax.
- Read Diabetes Burnout.
This is an excellent book on how to deal with diabetes-related stress. It was written by William H. Polonsky, PhD, CDE, the founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, an organization that focuses on the unmet psychological needs of people with diabetes.
Don't let diabetes overwhelm you. If you aren't able to reduce your stress level, seek help from a qualified health professional. You can stop and smell the flowers once again. Just be patient with yourself and take everything one step at a time. Enjoy!
Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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