Nurturing your mental health can ease diabetes stress and help you stay on top of your condition.
It's easy to feel stressed, upset or even angry when you're living with diabetes. It's a challenging disease, after all. But if those feelings are taking over your life, it's time to take back control.
In order to live your best life, good mental health matters. The more positive your mood, the more energy and motivation you'll have for things that can help you feel better, like monitoring your blood sugar and watching your diet.
Taming tension may even help you keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. That's because stress can raise blood sugar, especially if you have type 2 diabetes.
So how can you get started?
7 ways to nurture yourself
Here's what leading health organizations, including the American Diabetes Association and American Psychological Association, recommend:
1. Tap into the power of exercise. It's a true stress buster. Something as simple as a brisk walk can help relieve stress. Moving more also helps lower blood sugar. That makes physical activity a win-win.
2. Relax and recharge. The next time you're tense or angry, take slow, deep breaths. Or try a muscle-relaxation exercise. Flex each muscle group and then relax it, starting with your toes and feet and moving up your body.
3. Retrain your brain. Chase away negative thoughts by memorizing a quote that inspires you. Say it to yourself whenever negative thoughts surface.
4. Talk about it. Rather than bottling up your feelings, share them with friends, family, a therapist or your diabetes care team. A heart-to-heart talk with someone you trust can lift your spirits. Speak up if there's a specific way someone might support you.
5. Connect with people who've been there. Ask your diabetes care team to refer you to a support group. The encouragement—and practical advice—of people in the same situation can help make the challenges of diabetes much more manageable.
6. Tackle challenges head-on. If something is making you anxious—for example, not taking your medicine as you should—ask your diabetes care team for help making headway on that habit. In the long run, avoiding self-care issues will only make you worry more and put your health at risk.
7. Keep your balance. While it's important to take diabetes seriously, it doesn't have to define you. Make plenty of time for activities and people you enjoy. And explore new interests—they make life more interesting.
Don't ignore depression
Diabetes can raise the risk of depression. So be sure to tell your care team if you're struggling with symptoms like these. Depression can be treated. And the sooner that treatment starts, the sooner you'll feel like yourself again.