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Managing Your Diabetes At Work

We all have days when we’re just overwhelmed. No matter what field you work in, you’re always asked to produce more, faster and with fewer resources. What happens to managing diabetes, then?

Stress, emergencies and blood glucose

It’s a familiar refrain: stress increases cortisol and causes blood glucose fluctuations.

And when your days at the office are a never-ending sprint, eating well, being active and testing your blood glucose can become secondary concerns… which threatens your health—and, ironically, that sacrosanct productivity by the same token!

Jumping everyday hurdles

Every day is a miniature obstacle course. If you want to overcome it, you need a good plan.

  • Don’t forget! Set reminders (for snacks, breaks, blood glucose tests, insulin injections, etc.) on your computer or smartphone.
  • Have all your equipment easily accessible.
  • Keep healthy snacks with you along with something to fight off hypoglycemia: juice, glucose tablets, etc.
  • Get up and walk! Take short pauses during the day to walk around a bit, do some stretches and look at something other than your screen.

Outside of 9 to 5

If you work night shifts, or if your schedule changes from one week to another, it can affect your circadian rhythm, which will have a domino effect on your tiredness and hunger, and thus on your blood glucose. In other words, better test it more frequently. Do your best to be regular with your meal and snack times and to keep up a good exercise routine.

A matter of rights

Unless you have a high-risk occupation (police officer, firefighter, commercial pilot, heavy equipment operator, etc.), you’re under no obligation to disclose any kind of confidential information about your health to your employer.

Be aware that a potential employer cannot refuse to hire you simply because you live with diabetes, nor can your current employer discriminate against you for that reason.

The law also entitles you to reasonable accommodation measures, such as breaks to measure your blood glucose or inject insulin, and a suitable place to do so.

Choosing to speak up

It may be a good idea to give your colleagues a basic explanation of what diabetes is and what managing it involves on a daily basis. If you equip them properly, they can become your allies and will be able to detect the signs of hypoglycemia and act accordingly.

Listen to your body at all times. Don’t hesitate to say you’re not feeling well or to ask for help. Get over the barriers of embarrassment, the fear of being annoying or the wish to be like everyone else!

In short, whatever happens, never lose sight of the fact that your health is the most important thing. Besides, eating well, taking breaks, staying active and managing stress are things that improve everyone’s productivity. Your colleagues—and even your bosses—would be well advised to copy you!

Diabetes Canada, “Employment discrimination & your rights”: Accessed September 14, 2017.
Diabetes Canada, “Diabetes Canada’s position on employment”: Accessed September 14, 2017.
Diabetes Canada, “Diabetes & shift work”: Accessed September 14, 2017.

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