Stress, Burnout, and Type 2 Diabetes: How to Avoid It
Let’s face it: Having a chronic illness is not a walk in the park.
You’re never able to leave it behind, no matter what you’re doing. You can’t check it with your coat when you go to a nice restaurant, you can’t stick it in your luggage and shove it under the plane when you’re on a long flight, and you can’t hang it up in the closet when you’re having a rough day.
It’s with you all. the. time.
That can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being, which causes stress, and might even leave you feeling completely burned out. You may even find that you don’t have the motivation to take care of yourself like you know you should, which can make you feel even worse. It can become a never-ending cycle.
In fact, research shows that stress and how you cope with it can interfere with self-care practice. Feelings of anxiety or depression may cause you to react by exercising less, eating a less healthy diet, or even result in taking your type 2 diabetes medications improperly.
In addition, research has also shown that depression can impact a patient’s desire to regularly monitor their blood glucose levels, and, sadly, depression is more likely among those who have type 2 diabetes than the average population.
So that’s the bad news. The good news is that there are things you can do to ease stress and avoid burnout.
Identify your stressors. You’re not going to get anywhere unless you know exactly what’s causing the stress in your life. Is a co-worker driving you crazy? Is having to stick to a strict meal plan what’s really making you anxious? Are you worrying about the future of your health?
Constantly feeling really stressed or anxious without stopping to identify exactly what’s causing the problem isn’t going to help you, so sit down and really take the time to identify the main and major stressors in your life.
Next, come up with very specific plans for reducing stress. If sticking to a meal plan is stressing you out, instead of planning to “do better” or “do it right this time,” come up with a solid, detailed plan. Perhaps you need to visit with an RD who specializes in diabetes management and can work through some of the issues you’re having sticking with your meal plan. Perhaps you’ve realized it’s the lack of support from your family regarding the meals you’re supposed to eat that’s really getting you down, and a talk with your spouse is what you need.
If you’re worried about the future and feel overwhelmed and unable to deal, or are struggling with depression, consider talking to a counselor or therapist. They have many coping techniques to teach you to help you get through your day to day life without feeling crushed by stress.
Remember to take it one stressful thing at a time. If even the thought of having to come up with a plan to deal with everything makes you feel stressed—take a deep breath. You can do this one small step at a time. Pick the thing that’s bothering you the most and do one small thing a day that will help move you in the right direction.
Lastly, add in more pleasurable activities. Sometimes distraction from stress makes a big difference, and one of the best ways to do that is to add in more fun stuff. Join a book club, go to a concert, meet up with a friend. If it gets your mind off your worries and makes you feel good, go for it! And don’t forget the old standby advice of taking deep breaths and trying good old meditation; those help to alleviate stress, too.
Do you have a family history of diabetes?