How to manage stress

Diabetes is a lifelong condition and at times it’s normal to feel frustrated or tired of the effort of looking after yourself. Being aware of stress, and taking action quickly, can prevent things from getting you down. Dealing with stress can also help your blood glucose control when you are under stress, your body produces hormones that make your insulin even less effective – this is why it’s important to closely monitor your blood glucose level at times of stress. Physical activity is a useful way of relieving stress – and it lowers your blood glucose, too.

Sources of diabetes-related stress

• Working heard to control your diabetes but still getting high blood glucose readings.
• Feeling guilty because you haven’t found time to monitor your blood glucose level.
• Finding it hard to remember to take your medication at the right times.
• Being in situations where you don’t’ have access to the sort of food you need.
• Conflict between the way you manage your diabetes and the way other people –friends and family, for example – tell you that you should be managing your diabetes.
• Guilt about being inactive or overweight.
• Feeling fed up with your day-to-day diabetes routine.

Learning to relax

Yoga is a great way to calm your mind, and you don’t’ have to spend lots of time learning complicated poses. Some simple stretching movements combined with breathing exercises can quickly make you feel calmer.

Action plan to beat diabetes-related stress

If you feel that the stress of looking after your diabetes is getting on top of you, this four action plan can help. Checking your progress will help you see if you are achieving your goals. You might want to reward yourself if you are doing well, or revise your plan if you are still struggling.

1. What situations are causing stress in your life? Identify the times when you find it difficult to look after your diabetes, and which tasks present the biggest challenge. Be as specific as possible about what is stressful.
2. What are your feelings? Consider how you feel about situations that cause stress and write down your feelings. Acknowledging that you feel anxious, resentful, or angry about some aspects of your diabetes care is often the first step to tackling this.
3. What are your options? Identify how you would like to care for your diabetes, then ask yourself what steps you could take to be in this position. For example, if you are worried about not doing enough blood glucose tests, what changes in your life would enable you to test more frequently?
4. What are you going to do? Work out what exactly you are going to do on a week-to-week basis with targets and a time scale. Keeping your action plan readily available will remind you of these.

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