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How to Turn a "Bad Diabetes Day" Around

Everyone living with diabetes has good and bad days. Some days you have in-range blood sugar levels and others just don’t work out right. Diabetes burnout and diabetes distress are very real feelings. You might be feeling like you have been trying very hard but not seeing the results you like. Or you might feel a little overwhelmed and not sure how to cope with diabetes and mental health1.

When a bad diabetes day seems to be taking over, here’s how to turn it around.

Diabetes mental health and attitude

Change your mind, change your life. You can look at your diabetes as something you can have some control over. It could be a moment to learn about your own health. By doing so, you’ve already taken the most important step to a better day and a healthier life.

Don’t forget to laugh! Humor helps you see everyday things from a new perspective. That’s why it’s such a great stress-reliever! It pulls you out of your current frame of mind, even if it’s only for a little while.

Diabetes and perfection

Nobody is perfect. There are many bumps in the road that everyone – honestly, everyone – living with diabetes encounter eventually. Dealing with diabetes can be stressful. Feeling fatigued and burned out is an absolutely normal feeling when managing diabetes!

  • You might over compensate for a low blood sugar one day.
  • You might under or overestimate the carbs in your meal.
  • Or, you could forget to ask a question at a doctor’s appointment.
  • Maybe all that happens in one day!

The point is: You’re not alone. Keep moving forward and make the rest of the day a good one.

Stress and diabetes

If you’re already having a bad day, that stress can raise your blood sugar level. Since we can’t eliminate stress entirely, we can try to manage it. Pay attention to how stress makes you feel physically and emotionally. Begin to relax by removing yourself from the activity that is causing you stress. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes, it can help. Resolve to make a few small changes to your life that will ease the stress you’re carrying.

Diabetes and mood swings

When your blood sugar level is off, it affects your mood. Start by treating your highs or lows first. Other ways to feel calmer could include taking a short walk. Take a shower or bath. Call a friend and share your troubles with someone who will listen. Maybe doing something you love like listening to music can be a good distraction or “pick me up”. Maybe make a list of things you’re thankful for, even the lessons you’ve learned by living with diabetes. That is next level mood management.

A word about diabetes depression

Everyone has down times, but depression is different. Sadness, grief, anxiety – these are normal human emotions. We experience for brief moments in time, and eventually we recover. However, depression is an illness. It can cause intense feelings of sadness, grief, or anxiety that won’t seem to go away.

Your doctor or pharmacist may not be able to recognize whether you are depressed. If you think you are, ask for help. It may be a difficult first step to take, but it’s the only way to move forward. You can start to understand the feelings you’re having, how they’re affecting your health, and how you can move forward. Getting help is smart and a healthy thing to do.

Staying active with diabetes

Staying active is one of the cornerstones of managing your diabetes. If you’re feeling upset or anxious, even a short walk can help. Walking around your neighborhood will make you feel better. It distracts you from dwelling on problems, it releases endorphins and lowers your blood sugar level. You might also find that it helps you get a better night’s sleep too.

Find a local diabetes support group

Surround yourself with people who can help you over the long run, emotionally or physically. Friends and family love you, of course. But there is something very special about meeting other people with the same experiences and concerns.

Be your own best friend

Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself and demand that your needs are being addressed. Whether it’s at work, at home, or even among friends. Don’t let people assume things about your life with diabetes. Have prepared answers to common questions such as can you ever eat sugar again. This way you can keep everyone around you informed about what diabetes is and is not. 

Invest in your long-term happiness

Cultivating a lifetime of happiness when you are living with diabetes is completely possible.

You are worth it.

Despite the many ups and downs along the way, there is more to come. You’ll learn a lot of trial-and-error lessons over the years. Every new piece of information about how to better manage your diabetes brings comfort and security.

Work with your doctor to be as healthy as you can be. It adds up. Over time, you’ll realize that “I can’t” has been replaced with “I can” in every aspect of your life, on any day.

Diabetes and mental health are connected, even if it does not seem that way. Stress can take a toll on the body as can other negative emotions. Keeping yourself calm and happy is not only beneficial mentally, but also for your physical health.

If you’re experiencing diabetes burnout, or feeling stressed or upset - reach out! Talk to friends and family about what is going on. You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist to point you to the right resources.

Reference

1Canadian Diabetes Association (n.d). Mental health issues. Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.ca/en-CA/managing-my-diabetes/preventing-complications/mental-health-issues. Accessed May 8 2020.

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