Good diabetes management requires constant attention. What you eat, the amount of physical activity you do, your level of stress, and also your sleeping habits are all variables that can affect your blood sugar levels. As days turn to weeks, and weeks turn into months and years, the overwhelming pressure of the daily demands can intensify. You may feel as if you are starting to “burn out” due to all the attention that needs to be paid to your diabetes care. Yuck! All you want is just a break from everything to do with diabetes. It’s a frustrating feeling knowing that you cannot “take a day off” from diabetes, like you can with work or school. It’s unfair but it’s the harsh reality of living with this chronic condition.
If you think that you might be suffering from diabetes burnout, please consider trying one of these strategies to get back on track.
Reaching out to family, friends and co-workers for support may help you better manage your diabetes. Please don’t try to do everything yourself! After all, before you had diabetes, you may have had more time to do certain chores like laundry, cleaning or food shopping. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your increased daily demands due to blood sugar monitoring, taking medications or doctor appointments, ask for assistance with your other responsibilities. Speak with family members or friends about joining you in healthy eating or your new exercise routine. If you don’t get the support you need from those in your inner circle, find an online diabetes support group or ask your healthcare provider or CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) for a recommendation of a support group in your local community. You can find a support system that will meet your needs!
Think of one small change that you would like to make in terms of your daily diabetes care. Do you feel overwhelmed by trying to stay within your blood sugar numbers? You’re not alone. Please don’t try to do diabetes perfectly; take a small step to do a bit better. Don’t dwell on past blood sugar numbers that were out of target range. Consider making a SMART goal for the week ahead. That means it should be Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Timely. Let’s say you want to exercise more and enjoy walking - take a look at your calendar for the week and figure out “specific” days and times when you can walk. For example, you could make a plan to take a 20 minute walk on Monday mornings at 6 AM and also walk Wednesday and Thursday evenings after dinner. Goals can and should change as needed.
A big part of reducing diabetes burnout and improving diabetes management is organization. Try using a checklist as a tool to keep diabetes care-related tasks from falling through the cracks. Checklists are a great way to hold yourself accountable while you strive to stay on track. You can create master checklists for all sorts of things and supplies, snacks, meal planning, and doctor’s appointments are just a few examples. You can keep a running “to do” checklist of diabetes-related purchases or tasks you need to complete. Once you find a method that works for you, stick with it.
Make sure to have an open and honest dialogue with your healthcare provider or doctor. When you go to your next diabetes care appointment, be prepared. Keep a list of questions that come up between appointments and bring it with you. It can also be helpful to bring a spouse or significant other, not just as a form of support, but also to be another set of ears. Appointments can be filled with lots of information! Do not be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something.
If you are feeling burnt out in part because you can’t prepare healthy meals due to kitchen clutter, then it’s time for a mini-makeover! Move items that you don’t use every day out of your “prime” kitchen space. Box up your Christmas china, take out your Thanksgiving platters, and move them to another area in your home. Use this space for your everyday cookware so you can easily find what you need when it’s time to prepare you healthy meals. Donate items that you no longer use (such as mugs, dishes or duplicate appliances). You’ll feel less overwhelmed in your kitchen and less likely to feel burned out about your diabetes management.
Savor and enjoy your food. Always be present in the moment of eating. Instead of thinking of food as blood sugar kryptonite, try to consciously and mindfully prepare and select foods you enjoy that will improve your overall health. Try to sit down when you eat and enjoy the flavors, textures and smell of your food. Don’t rush or eat standing up in front of the refrigerator or over the sink. Try eating on smaller plates, and even use your less dominant hand to help you slow down your pace. You’ll enjoy your food more and hopefully eat more nourishing food and improve your blood sugar control at the same time.
Reward yourself each and every day for your accomplishments. Don’t focus on what you could have done better; acknowledge what you did well. Think about rewarding yourself with a lovely lavender bubble bath, visit to a cultural art center or sign up for a new dance class. You are awesome, even if your diabetes burnout isn’t.