When someone has diabetes, his/her life changes. One of the things a lot of people don’t know about diabetes is that it places requirements on someone to adjust to key lifestyle changes – with a to-do list that can be challenging at times. There are frequent blood sugar checks, medications to schedule, dietary changes to adhere to and exercises to do.
It’s a lot and we know this can be overwhelming. However, diabetes is not the end of the world as life-changing as it is. People living with this condition can still live happy, fulfilling lives for a long time while keeping it under control. We wouldn’t wish this on anyone but if you or anyone is dealing with diabetes, here are a few important things to note.
1. Accept that transitions can be difficult
Lifestyle changes of any kind can be challenging for anyone, not to mention someone dealing with diabetes. Dealing with work, family and other responsibilities while trying to adjust to a treatment regimen can be tough but it’s something one has to prepare mentally for. Accept that life isn’t really as it is but with people you love around you, you can still live a meaningful, enjoyable life.
2. Forget about perfect readings
Some people with diabetes obsess over their blood sugar levels to the point where it starts stressing them out. There are no vacations from diabetes and even the most diligent people can’t keep their blood sugar or diet or physical activity on target all the time. People living with diabetes are making medical decisions every hour and worrying about keeping the readings on point every time won’t help. If you miss your target once or twice, it’s okay. Just focus on the journey ahead.
3. Note your stressors
There’s a condition psychologists refer to as “diabetes distress” because they’ve identified that living with diabetes can cause fear, anger, worry, and sadness.
Blood sugar numbers can have a life of their own. Up this minute, down the next, so you’re constantly making adjustments. It can make one feel powerless. Other stressors might emanate from worrying about access to good healthcare, food, finances, family and friends who might seem like the ‘diabetes police’, etc.
Pay attention to what stresses you and try to address them. See your doctor for advice too.
4. Set realistic goals
Making all the drastic lifestyle changes at once can lead to burnout. To avoid this, you can simplify by taking a big goal and breaking it into more manageable pieces.
If you need to lose 25 kg, you can shoot for 2 kilos a month. If you drink regular soda, try switching to diet. If you normally eat ice cream every week, switch to once or twice a month.
Some doctors recommend adapting your treatment plan to your lifestyle rather than the other way around. It helps.
5. Speaking of help…
Build a support network – and use it.
In addition to your doctors, look for counselors close friends or relatives who can be there for you when you need them. This can be anything from asking a family member to remind you to take your medication to asking a friend to exercise with you a few times a week.
You need all the support and assistance you can get and these people are around you for a reason, make your relationships count.