Those with diabetes face a variety of health difficulties, including the need, like all of us, to stay focused and mentally healthy.
“Due to the complexity of the disease and its impact on everyday activities, it’s a legitimate challenge sometimes for people with diabetes to avoid becoming stressed out,” said Joe Nelson, a therapist and expert on helping people manage their diabetes.
Nelson and the American Association of Diabetes Educators advises five key strategies for those with diabetes to mind their mental health:
1. Get the support you need and connect with others
First, identify what you want in the way of support for dealing with your diabetes. You may need your family to offer support through encouraging words.
You might want to enlist co-workers’ support by telling them about what you have to deal with and let them know that this will help you feel encouraged.
Or maybe you need something from your diabetes educator that will help you mange your disease better.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
2. Accept the things you cannot change
If stress or personal barriers are affecting how you deal with your diabetes, recognize that while certain things are out of your control, such as having the disease, or being able to predict individual blood sugar levels, there are many things you can control, such as how you manage it.
3. Develop regular self-care practices
Exercise, meditation, yoga, tai chi, mindful walking – all of these disciplines can refresh and renew your attitude.
4. Live in the moment Mindfulness-based meditation has become quite popular partly because it facilitates calmness and intentionality about how one lives his or her life.
In addition, it is helpful to develop hobbies and participate in fun activities.
5. Get a mental health checkup People who have diabetes have twice the risk of developing depression. And if you develop depression, you also won’t take care of your diabetes as well, so get to know a therapist who can do this assessment and will act as a confidant for you to talk with when diabetes becomes tough. The truth is diabetes is not easy and having someone to discuss the ups and downs with is motivating and can also help you ride the waves of living with it.
The Diabetes Educators have a vast network of practitioners working with people who have, are affected by or are at risk for diabetes. Learn more at diabeteseducator.org.