Looking for Routines That Help You Better Manage Diabetes
Last updated: March 2022
Routines can help lighten the mental load of managing diabetes. They can help you take better care of yourself with more consistency. Routines add moments of calm and predictability throughout your day.
There is no one set of routines that will work for everyone. Each person’s life and life with diabetes is unique.
Here are some ideas about how to think about routines (along with a couple of suggestions) to help you figure out which routines will work best for you.
Establish routines that support diabetes management
Establishing a routine can make it easier to do things that support your health and self-care consistently.
One of the most effective ways to make a routine consistent is to anchor one routine to another that’s already established. For example, check your blood glucose level right after brushing your teeth when you get up and before going to bed. You’re already brushing your teeth regularly, so one activity can automatically lead to the other.
Another way to establish a routine is to set up a trigger. Something happens and it reminds you to respond in a specific way. For example, want to check your blood glucose two hours after eating? When you finish eating set a timer on your smartphone. Label it “check blood glucose” so when it goes off you’re reminded again.
Think about the things you do (or should do) each day to manage diabetes. What medications do you take? When do you need to take them? How do you manage the food you eat? When do you exercise? How do you find calm? Then think about how you can get yourself to do these tasks regularly.
Decide how to start your day
The beginning of your day gives you a natural starting point for bringing focus to your diabetes self-care routines.
Most people also find it helpful to plan the day ahead. Where will you be? What will you be doing? Is it a “normal” day or is something unusual happening? By looking ahead you can anticipate the tasks ahead of you.
A lot of people sort their medications so that they don’t need to carry a lot of extra stuff around. For some, it’s as simple as using a pill sorter that easily fits in their purse or backpack. Others have more complicated routines.
One person I know sets up a daily “go” bag with all the medication and supplies they need for a single day. They use a cosmetics bag, making it easy to take it along. But the true genius of this routine is that since they only have one day’s supplies in the bag, at any point simply by checking what’s left in the bag, they know how many doses of medicine they’ve taken today. Because of this routine, they rarely miss taking their meds.
Check in at the middle of the day
The middle of the day is an opportunity to check in with yourself and make adjustments if needed. Ask yourself: How am I feeling? Am I on track with my medication? With my blood glucose readings? With my exercise routine?
Managing life with diabetes can be emotionally draining. One routine that can help you recharge is to acknowledge (maybe even celebrate a little) the things that you’ve done well—no matter how small they seem to be.
Did you take the stairs instead of the elevator? Took a few minutes to catch your breath after a stressful meeting? Got out of the building instead of eating your lunch at your desk? Whatever your personal victory, you deserve a pat on the back.
Relax and reflect at the end of the day
Taking time to reflect and wind down can bring a calm mood to end the day.
A routine that includes some time for reflection gives you an opportunity to express gratitude, acknowledge personal victories, and problem-solve issues. By doing this you gain perspective.
Winding down with a hot shower or a cup of tea can help you get to sleep more easily. A good night’s sleep will help you wake up refreshed and ready to face the new day.
Look for the opportunities
There are opportunities for routines to help you manage your diabetes more easily and consistently throughout the day. You can start experiencing the benefits routines can bring simply by looking for these opportunities.
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?