How to Best Manage Energy and Stress for Diabetes
Last updated: March 2022
We have all heard of time management, but what about energy management? This involves being mindful of things that drain and boost your energy, and complementing your natural energy rhythms, and is a part of effective time management. You could have all the time in the world to achieve tasks but, if you lack the energy needed, you will have to force yourself.
Managing your energy is a critical means of getting a handle on your stress. That’s because low energy causes more stress, and more stress can increase your blood glucose.1 Plus, low energy and more stress make it more likely that you will struggle to follow-through on healthy behaviors necessary for effective diabetes management.2 Therefore, energy management directly impacts diabetes control.
How to increase energy with type 2 diabetes
To manage your energy effectively, here are tips and helpful strategies I have learned from both my own experiences, and from many of my clients:
Plan your day according to your natural rhythm
Are you a morning person? A night owl?
- To use myself as an example: I am not necessarily a morning person but I am able to concentrate better in the morning times and find it hard to maintain focus in the afternoons. So I try to tackle projects that require more in-depth thinking in the morning, and schedule meetings, phone calls, and emails in the afternoon. That way, I’m not trying to battle my own rhythm of mental energy by tackling more difficult tasks in the time when I struggle to focus on one continuous task.
- Also, because I am not a morning person and I enjoy physical activity as a means of burning off the stressors of the day, I like to do my exercise in the evening or early afternoon. This serves as a transition between work and personal time to help my brain make a clear division. Plus, this is the time when I struggle with low energy so exercise during this transition time gives me a natural boost in energy.
- Don’t forget though that your natural rhythm can change and, with training, you can shift this. For example, if your goal is to start exercising but you simply cannot find a way to fit it in after work and you are not a morning person, avoid the temptation to write off exercise as “impossible” for your schedule. If your goal is to fit in this healthy behavior and the morning is the only time possible, train yourself instead. This may involve gradually waking up earlier. Or try giving yourself a test run to get up and get in exercise for a few weeks; over time your body will adjust to this routine.
Consider your personality
What is your personality style? If you don’t know, consider taking a personality assessment.
- Me, I am a split introvert/extrovert: I enjoy spending time with people but it tends to drain my batteries. After a long day of seeing clients, meetings, or socializing, I need to recharge my batteries with some alone time. Other folks find that being around others is invigorating and boosts their energy.
Consider people and tasks
Some people can just be more challenging and require more energy to be around. We all know at least one of them. It is the person that is so energetic or intense that they leave you drained. Or it’s this person that is chronically negative and pessimistic and sucks the good vibes out of the room. It could be a family member, coworker, or friend.
- If at all possible limit your time with these energy-depleting people. And/or attempt to avoid spending time with these people during the times when your energy is lower given your natural rhythm.
Then there are the tasks that just seem to deplete you. This may be running errands, grocery shopping, making phone calls, etc.
- Again, think of accomplishing these things during the times that work best for your rhythm.
- Think about combining these tasks. For example, if its running errands, try to get as many errands done when you are already out and about and think of times when there is less traffic that you could also accomplish it. Grocery shopping is often an errand that people identify as a challenge, but as necessary to eat healthy for diabetes; try limiting grocery shopping to once or twice per week. If its phone calls, try to knock out as many on your list as you can at once; or think about doing other tasks while on the phone such as cleaning or folding laundry, etc.
Find what charges your batteries
What are some things that invigorate you? Take note of these so that you can utilize them at times when you are feeling an energy deficit. And consider ways you can integrate them into your daily life.
This is personal and looks different from person to person. Examples may be:
- Being outdoors, getting fresh air and sunshine
- A brisk walk
- Meditation or just quiet time
- Calling a friend for a quick catch up
- Listening to your favorite energizing song
- Invigorating herbal teas (any mint flavors like peppermint work for me)
- Aromatherapy like lotions, sprays, or candles
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?