How to Overcome Diabetes Burnout

Is your diabetes routine wearing you out? Here's how to cope.

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on September 20, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Let's be honest: The day-to-day routine of living with diabetes -- testing your blood sugar, taking medications, counting carbohydrates -- can wear a person out. Many people go through times when they feel frustrated or defeated by the disease. Some even choose to ignore parts (or all) of their treatment plans, says Rita Panayioto, RD, a certified diabetes educator.

"Sometimes patients tell me, 'I'm taking a vacation from my diabetes care,'" Panayioto says. But a "vacation" from managing the disease raises your risk of serious complications.

Panayioto offers these tips to help you avoid diabetes burnout or get back on track.

Check in with your team. Make (and keep) regular appointments with your doctor or diabetes educator, even if you are embarrassed. An appointment gives you a chance to troubleshoot problem areas. For example, Panayioto often works with people who give up on their eating plans because they feel confused about what they can and can't eat. She outlines a simple eating plan and suggests ways to vary their meals to prevent boredom. She finds that these check-ins can help her clients in a major way. 


Don't strive for perfection. While it's important to aim for blood sugar levels in your target range, accept that fluctuations happen, even when you try your best.

"There's no such thing as perfect control," Panayioto says. "You can put someone in a room and give them the exact same meal every day, and you'll still see some variation due to things like stress or hormone levels."

You're less likely to feel frustrated if you accept that some of this is simply out of your control.

Focus on the victories. Take time to appreciate what you're doing right, even the small things, like that walk you took after dinner last night or the apple you had with lunch, Panayioto says. Then, set some gentle goals that build on those successes: take one more walk this week, keep a food diary for 7 days, or eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal, for examples.

Ask Your Doctor

What would happen if I stopped my diabetes care plan?

Can we review my eating plan?

Are some parts of my diabetes care routine more important than others? What should I prioritize?

Can you connect me with support groups or classes for people with diabetes?

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Rita Panayioto, CDE, RD, certified diabetes educator with Emory Healthcare, Atlanta.

American Diabetes Association: "New Year's Resolutions: Three Steps to Success."

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