Is Diabetes Dragging Down Your Headspace and Dulling Your Mood?
Mental health is a huge part of taking care of diabetes.
Yes, diabetes is going to throw you for a loop some days, which impacts your mental health… whether that’s with the added stress, lack of sleep, or feelings of burnout because of diabetes. In the same way though, you are going to encounter challenges in life that have this same effect. And this, in turn, can impact your diabetes management.
How to maintain your mental health while managing type 2 diabetes
A strong mindset can make you more resilient, especially during tough times. Here are some helpful tips for getting your head in the diabetes game and keeping your headspace healthy:
Try to regulate your emotions
We know that blood sugars tend to go along for the ride when we find ourselves on emotional roller coasters. Stress and difficult times are a part of life and blood sugar control will take a hit if stress is unchecked. Think of it this way: if managing your blood sugar is the ‘bread’ of diabetes management, then emotions are the ‘butter.’
Step up to the plate
It’s easy to play the blame game and adopt the role of victim when it comes to diabetes. No one expects you to do it on your own, but no one can do it but you. Taking responsibility for your own actions keeps your head in the game. If you don’t have your own back then who does?
Think bigger than diabetes
It’s easy to just focus on controlling blood sugar, but consider your overall health and simply do your best, whatever that looks like. Move your body, eat healthily, take medications. Of course, these are important for physical health but it's a total game-changer for mental health too!
Don’t get hung up on the numbers
Yes, they inform treatment but they can also put you in a negative headspace and lead us to feelings of failure or like we are being judged. Instead of obsessing over numbers (glucose, A1c) concentrate on the behaviors that impact them.
Consider all of the strengths you have gained as a result of diabetes
Some thoughts that individuals have shared with me include becoming more resilient, better at math, more disciplined, or feelings of gratitude for the fact that diabetes “forces me to look at what I eat and I wouldn’t do that otherwise.”
Remember that diabetes does not define you
Many people find encouragement in identifying a personal affirmation statement. For example, "I am greater than the highs and lows."
You are not going to accomplish all you want every single day. Thinking you will is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for feelings of failure.
Never stop learning
We all know that we need to hear things several times to stick. With diabetes, there are so many aspects to continue learning (food, activity, medications, etc.). Not to mention the fact that you change!! Something that may have worked for you in the past no longer does. Or you may find that you are ready to level up and take your self-care to the next level. It’s easy to find ourselves blaming diabetes but gaining a better understanding of diabetes helps us to see things more clearly and helps to curb the blame game.
Remember that you are not alone
Connecting to others who have diabetes is powerful. There are others who are going through or have been through similar challenges as circumstances. Look into support groups or even online forums to connect with others and find a new diabuddy.
Talk to others, whether it’s someone who has diabetes or not. Simply venting is helpful. Ask for help when it’s needed. Find ways to bulk up and tap into your support system.
Bring in the pros
Talking to a professional can be a game-changer. It’s a fact, having diabetes is tough. But, diabetes or not, we all go through rough things in life, and, when we do, diabetes is often negatively impacted. Ask your doctor to recommend a mental health provider. You can also check out the ADA’s mental health provider directory to search for providers who have specific understanding of diabetes.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?