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Why Self-Care Is Important With Diabetes

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mary van doorn Why Self-Care Is Important With Diabetes

My name is Mary Van Doorn, and I know a lot about diabetes–I was diagnosed with it 20 years ago. Diabetes brings many challenges along with it, and it can be frustrating to keep up with it all: testing blood sugars, taking medications, making dietary changes, and living with medication side effects, among others. It makes sense why life with diabetes can stress you out. However, stress, whether physical or mental, can cause fluctuations in your blood sugar. This includes stressing about your blood sugar numbers! Stress on the body can also be brought on by sickness, injury, job difficulties, financial struggles, or problems in your personal relationships. 

When you’re stressed or overwhelmed with what life throws at you, it’s easy to put yourself and caring for your diabetes on the back burner. You might find yourself making poor nutrition choices, neglecting to check your blood sugar, or becoming less active. This, along with the body’s physical response to stress—producing more of its stress hormone—can cause blood sugars to rise.

All of this stress can be even more compounding if your mindset isn’t in the right place.

Enter: Self-Care

Reset, Refuel, Refocus

Self-care doesn’t have to mean a massage or a day at the spa. While these are wonderful, they aren’t always a realistic way to get a mindset flip when you need it in a hurry. Simply put, self-care means making time for you so you can reset, refuel, and refocus your energy on taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

Use these 10 self-care ideas to get you thinking about how you can implement your own routine.

  • Dance in the kitchen

  • Read an uplifting book

  • Take a bath or hot shower

  • Go for a walk

  • Put on headphones and listen to your favorite song

  • Work in your garden

  • Call a friend

  • Watch mindless TV

  • Take a power nap

  • Enjoy a cup of tea

Create a Happiness List

When you’re overwhelmed, it can be hard to remember stress-reduction techniques or relaxation strategies. That’s why it’s helpful to make a cheat sheet for yourself. On a sheet of paper, in your journal, or on your phone, make a list of small things that bring a smile to your face and put you in a better mood. Having this list readily available to you during tough times will ensure you have an escape route directly to self-care that works for you.

Remember, maintaining a positive mindset will help you maintain your cool when diabetes tries to get the best of you. Recognizing your stress triggers, and coping with them by integrating a self-care routine, is key to rolling with the punches of diabetes.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Jul 22
THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.
  1. Stress. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mental-health/stress.html
  2. Lloyd C, Smith J, et al. Stress and Diabetes: A Review of the Links. Diabetes Spectrum. 2005;18(2): 121-127. https://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/18/2/121


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