6 Tips if You're Tired of Your Diabetes

From the WebMD Archives

When you have diabetes, it can feel like your daily to-do list is endless. You're tracking your blood sugars, medications, diet, and exercise.

That can be a lot to take care of every day. It can make you feel burned out.

"When you have a chronic illness, everybody wants a day off from that, or a week or a month off," says David Spero, RN, author of Diabetes: Sugar-Coated Crisis.

But you can't do that with diabetes. So how do you avoid diabetes burnout and keep a positive mindset?

Some days will be harder than others, but there are ways to do it.

1. Reach out.

"The most important thing is to get help," Spero says. "The number one cause of burnout is people are trying to do everything themselves and get overwhelmed."

Research shows that social support -- from a friend, family member, or support group -- is one of the top ways to counter the negative effects of stress on diabetes management.

"When you feel like you're in this alone, it's going to be exhausting," Spero says. "But if you feel you have help, it's much easier."

Lisa Bernard, who lives in Pavilion, N.Y., and has type 2 diabetes, is grateful she can vent to friends on online forums.

"The most morale-boosting, uplifting thing is chatting with people who understand what it is like to ride the roller coaster of high glucose," she says. "Who else would understand our frustrations? These people 'get it' in ways I pray my dear family and friends neverwill."

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2. Edit your thoughts.

Pay attention to what you're thinking. Your thoughts make a difference in how you feel.

"We feel the way we think," says Helen Grusd, PhD, a psychologist in Beverly Hills, Calif. "The more you say to yourself, 'This is awful, this is terrible, this isn't fair,' the more you become depressed."

So if you are feeling down you can say, "How can I change my thinking? What can I do differently?"

Of course you'll have negative thoughts. It's a matter of choosing which thoughts you take to heart.

Do something that will lift your mood. Go for a walk, meet a friend at the mall, take a bubble bath, or listen to your favorite playlist at the park.

"It's important to take action immediately rather than let negative feelings grow in your mind," Grusd says.

3. Think like an optimist.

Focus on the positive parts of your life rather than negatives, says Lurelean B. Gaines, RN, MSN, president-elect of heath care and education for the American Diabetes Association.

Think about things you can look forward to, such as an upcoming trip or show, or getting together with friends.

"You have to look at the bright side of things," says Gaines, whose glass is always half-full. "Even in the worst times, I can always think of something positive to get out of each day that I live."

4. Rethink exercise.

If you know you should exercise, but it's not happening for you, take a look at why that is.

Maybe your goal was too ambitious. "Do whatever you think you can do," Gaines says. "Sometimes it's just walking. And you don't have to walk vigorously. Smell the roses along the way."

Don't be a perfectionist about it. Let's say you wanted to exercise every day but you missed a couple of days. "Don't beat yourself up for that," Spero says. "Give yourself credit for the days you did walk."

Instead, ask yourself what would help you do better with your goal in the future. Find ways to make it happen.

"If you expect perfection, then you're going to be disappointed a lot of the time," Spero says. "If you're looking for steady progress, then you can see that."

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5. Get more ZZZs.

Skimping on sleep at night can leave you feeling irritable and stressed. It can also hurt your blood sugar control.

So make sleep a priority. Turn off the late-night TV, keep your bedroom all about sleep and relaxation, and try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night.

That's a lot more sleep than many people get. If that's true for you, give it a try and see what a difference it makes for you. Though it will mean changing your routine, it pays off for your health and energy level.

6. Keep your sense of humor.

A good laugh won't change your diabetes, but it can boost your mood.

"Laughter is a great antidote to feeling depressed or anxious," Grusd says. "It's important to use that as a coping tool when you're feeling down."

Look for chances in your day to tap into that. Watch happy, uplifting movies and avoid tearjerkers, and "surround yourself with joyous, happy people," Grusd says.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on September 17, 2012

Sources

SOURCES:

David Spero, RN, author, Diabetes: Sugar-Coated Crisis.

Griffith, L. Internal Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, 1990.

Lisa Bernard, Pavilion, N.Y.

Helen Grusd, PhD, psychologist, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Lurelean B. Gaines, RN, MSN, president-elect, heath care and education, American Diabetes Association.

Knutson, K. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2006.

Healthy Sleep: "Changes in Sleep with Age."

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