Diabetes Blogs

Self-Regulation and You

"Self-regulation" is a psychological term that has great significance in terms of our ability to manage stress and respond to the challenges of life with equanimity and poise. And for those of us living with chronic illness of any kind, emotional self-regulation can be a challenge, especially when our health is challenged. 

An article on the website of Psychology Today states: 

"Research consistently shows that self-regulation skill is necessary for reliable emotional well being. Behaviorally, self-regulation is the ability to act in your long-term best interest, consistent with your deepest values. (Violation of one's deepest values causes guilt, shane, and anxiety, which undermine well being.) Emotionally, self-regulation is the ability to calm yourself down when you're upset and cheer yourself up when you're down."

In the quote above, "the ability to act in your long-term best interest, consistent with your deepest values" is a significant statement. As an individual with diabetes, for instance, your long-term best interest is to regulate your emotions in a way that manages any negative associations you may have with your diabetic identity, including the emotional ramifications of living with a chronic condition. 

Let's face it. Diabetes can impact you emotionally, spiritually and psychologically, so this "physical" disease can cause ripples in most areas of your life. 

For instance, young diabetics may find it quite difficult to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, especially when faced with the tempetations of youth: alcohol, drugs, partying, sleep deprivation, sugary foods, etc. Young diabetics must be incredibly challenged to responsibly care for themselves physically when they're tempted on all sides by the things that their friends can do with little to no thought for the consequences.

Sure, your non-diabetic friend may be able to eat Doritos for dinner, drink beer until 3am, sleep 4 hours, and then have cupcakes and Coke for breakfast. He may be tired but he doesn't even know he has a HgB A1c, let alone needing to worry about it. On the other hand, you're aware that your Type 1 DM needs very conscientious management, and the fact that you simply can't easily stay up all night, drink beer and eat crappy food may cause you to feel resentful, deprived, and perhaps simply depressed about this disease you never asked for. 

This is where self-regulation comes in. You are looking out for your own best interests, managing your emotional life, honoring your values, and otherwise maintaining an outlook and emotional equilibirum that serves your greatest needs. 

If you need professionals who can assist you in maintaining that all-important emotional equilibrium, there are plenty of therapists, counselors, coaches and others who understand chronic illness and the challeges that it engenders. Whether you're a teenage Type 1 diabetic or a 60-year-old new-onset Type 2 diabetic, the challenges and hardships can be weathered, even if they're somewhat different in a certain respect. 

Seek out the help and support you need to self-regulate and manage the emotional side of your diabetes, and work towards emotional equilibrium on a daily basis. And the more your emotional life is clear and healthy, your physical health will follow.

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