Having diabetes not only affects people physically. It creates feelings of stress and guilt in some people.
Imagine one day when you go for a medical checkup and your physician tells you that you were diagnosed with diabetes. How will you react at that moment?
You might be thinking the reason you getting diabetes is because you eating too much, do not control your diet, are overweight or not doing exercise. You might feel ashamed of telling people around you that you have diabetes, as this is a disease caused by “not being disciplined”.
More so, you started to stress about the disease itself. “How can I cope with it?” “I don’t want to start medicine!” and many worries come to your mind.
How does stress affect your health?
Due to the mind-body connection, mental stress can also affect your physical health.
It is normal that you get stressed when you have diabetes, especially if you are newly diagnosed. Too much stress hormone produced can alter blood sugar, making it spike or fall unpredictably. (1) (Don’t stress when you read this, take a deep breath~)
Besides, long-term anxiety can also affect your quality of life. When you are under stress, most probably you are not able to take good care of yourself. Diabetes-triggered stress can lead to fear of eating, skipping meals, and poor adherence to exercise and medication. (2)
Studies demonstrated persistently In a state of depression was associated with poor self-management in diabetes patients. On the contrary, a good mindset was associated with improved glycemic control. (3）
However, it is easier said than done when we said “don’t stress, just relax”.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
How to cope with diabetes distress?
Take your time to accept it
When we first received bad news, it is common that we will deny them. We could not accept that we have to live with this disease for the rest of our lives. It is normal that we will feel angry and depressed. It is normal that we are fearful and overwhelmed, worried that we cannot cope with the disease.
It is okay to take your time. Although you cannot totally ignore your condition, taking time to accept it is a better way to reduce stress. Diabetes can be a long-term illness, but it is not as scary as you thought.
If you manage it well, surely you can get along well with it.
Talk to your loved one
Talk to your family or friends, about how you feel and your worries. Talking to someone is always better than bearing it alone, as you know you always have someone to support you.
Besides, you can choose to talk to other people with diabetes - to know that you are not alone. You can join the diabetes community, and share your feelings and experiences with each other
Spend 10 to 15 minutes meditating every day. Practicing meditation is very useful when it comes to stress management, helping you to stay calm and focused. Not only help in terms of mindfulness, but the study also shows that continuing meditated helps decrease blood sugar levels. (4)
While you might doubt the effect of reducing blood sugar, it takes no risk to start meditation.
You can choose to do a simple breathing exercise, or try a guided meditation.
Talk to healthcare professionals
It is easy to get overwhelmed if you try to handle all of this by yourself. If you feel that you cannot cope with the stress, a mental health professional can be a good person to talk to. It is not ashamed to seek help.
While in the lifestyle management part, look for a dietitian to help you manage your blood sugar, by planning a suitable menu plan for you. It is easier and more effective than simply googling the information.
Be kind to yourself
When you panic, you might set high expectations for yourself in managing diabetes. For example, you want your blood sugar to drop immediately, or lose 10kg in one month.
However, unrealistic goals can end up in disappointment and feelings of failure, if you cannot achieve the result that you are hoping for.
Thus, it is better to set a smaller but achievable goal. For example, instead of losing 10kg per month, aim for 1-2kg. Instead of running 30 minutes every day, start with 15 minutes walk.
Once you hit the small goals, you will gain confidence and be more ready to face a bigger goal in the future.
“Sometimes you will be in control of your illness and other times you’ll sink into despair, and that’s OK! Freak out, forgive yourself, and try again tomorrow.”
– Kelly Hemingway
When talking about diabetes, people tend to focus on the treatment part without considering the emotional needs. However, a good mindset also plays an important role in disease management.
This writing is just to let you, who are diagnosed with diabetes know - you are not fighting alone. If you feel depressed, frustrated and tired about your condition, always seek help from others. 🙂