A Healthy Mind and Diabetes

Looking after your diabetes, blood glucose levels, diet or treatment can be a significant source of stress. You can experience unique emotional issues directly related to the burdens and worries of living with a chronic disease like diabetes. Many people with diabetes experience common feelings of worry, frustration, concern and ‘burn-out’. These feelings can often arise from concerns about looking after your diabetes, lack of support, emotional burden, and difficulty accessing health care services.

People with higher stress levels are more likely to develop higher blood glucose levels than those with lower stress levels. Finding the source of pressure for you is important so stress management strategies can be put in place.

DE - A Healthy Mind and Diabetes
When talking to people with diabetes some common source of stress for them were:

  • ‘I find it difficult and frustrating keeping up with ‘normal’ people’
  • ‘I can’t eat dessert and not worry about the effect it will have on me’
  • ‘Sometimes I think it would be easier to live in a house with people who are like me, with diabetes, then life would be the same for all of us’

Can you identify what the sources of stress are for you? Here are some tips to cope with your diabetes:

  • Understand your, and others’, expectations. Setting small achievable goals can maintain motivation and provide a sense of achievement.
  • Recognise and accept your reality and your limitations – there is more in your life than just diabetes, perhaps a demanding job, a family, someone else to care for?
  • Be cautious of other people’s opinions, remember everyone will have a ‘view’ on diabetes. Don’t let self-doubt arise, talk to your health care team if you’re unsure.
  • Pace yourself – try not to be everything for everyone, take some ‘time out’ for yourself as regularly as you can.
  • Acknowledge and accept that there may be days when you experience different emotions. It is common for people to grieve for the life they once had before diabetes, feelings of loss of control and uncertainty about the future, denial or feeling overwhelmed, and even guilt towards your diagnosis. It is important to discuss your feelings with people you trust, and don’t hesitate to ask for professional help if your ability to cope is not improving.