Include Type 2 Diabetes in Your Year-End Reflections
Year-end is the time when many of us pause to reflect on our life. We look back on what we’ve just been through - what we have and haven’t done and experienced. And we look ahead to what we plan to do and hope to experience next.
If you’re one of the many who do some kind of end-of-year review, do you include reflecting on your type 2 diabetes in the process? Do you look back at your actions, habits, and lab results? Then, do you ask yourself what worked well with your diabetes care and what you would like to change?
A type 2 diabetes year-end review
Managing life with diabetes is more of a marathon than a sprint. For this reason, it makes a lot of sense to stop every once in a while and reflect on how things are going with your diabetes and what you might want to change.
Evaluate your diabetes goals, even the not-so-SMART ones
We’re told to be successful, we need to make our goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound). But not every aspect of life with type 2 diabetes works within this framework.
There are aspects of managing life with diabetes that can’t be quantifiably measured. For example, how do you measure stress levels or your state of mind? You can track if you feel a high level or low level of stress during a day, but your assessment is subjective and feelings cannot be easily translated into a hard number. For these situations, look at making a different kind of goal, one outside the confines of the SMART framework.
Ask yourself the important questions
Ask yourself, what do you want more of? Maybe it’s sleeping more soundly through the night. Or it could be more after-dinner walks with your partner. Then consider how you can make these things happen. Maybe it takes changing a routine or building a new habit. Whatever it takes, identify how you’ll make that change and then do it! Remember to keep track of your efforts and recognize any improvements and successes.
Ask yourself, what do you want less of? Maybe it’s feeling anxious when you find yourself somewhere without your diabetes supplies. Consider what kind of habit you need to establish so that you can reduce feeling anxious in this situation. What needs to change? Decide and then make it happen.
Look at more than just your lab test results
Looking at data is a cornerstone of many reflection exercises and lab results provide a quantifiable measure of health. While A1C results and cholesterol levels provide important indicators of health, they don’t tell the whole story. This is why you need to consider more than just your lab results in your reflections.
Be sure to look at the qualitative aspects of your life with diabetes. These can be things like your mental state or quality of life. One way to get at these is to take into consideration your reason for wanting them - your 'why.' Why do you want to manage your type 2 diabetes well? It could be that you exercise because you want to have enough energy to be able to play with your grandchildren. Or you want to complete a bike race. Once you know your 'why', you can determine what kinds of efforts to make and track.
Your 'why' is very personal. Only you can decide what makes you feel healthy, vital, and content. Only you can judge whether you’re meeting your own expectations or not.
Celebrate all progress made
Any progress made is an improvement and deserves to be recognized as an accomplishment. Your A1C results might not be at the ultimate number you want, but are your results moving toward that goal? Or, at least, staying steady? Then give yourself a pat on the back.
Maybe you’re not exercising as much as is recommended. But be sure to recognize what you are getting done. Ask yourself if you’re feeling stronger, more resilient, or more flexible. Do you have more stamina? These indicate that the exercise you’re doing is having a positive effect. Any improvement is worthy of a fist pump and a heck yeah!
Measuring your mental state can be tricky. It can vary day-to-day. Feeling stressed or upset is an inevitable part of life. But when you find yourself feeling stressed how do you respond? Do you exhibit perseverance? Flexibility? Resilience? Do you find you have more up days than down? Do you seek out those situations that make you feel happier? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then reinforce it by telling yourself you've done a good job.
There’s more than one way to manage type 2 diabetes
Managing life with type 2 diabetes is complex. There’s no one way to do it that works for everyone. Diabetes comes with a healthy dose of unpredictability. Sometimes we even end up making it up along the way. By taking the time to reflect and plan ahead we can fine-tune our efforts. The net result will be that we are more likely to enjoy a better quality of life.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?