Turning a Down Day Around
Everyone with diabetes has good and bad days, days with in-range blood sugar levels and days when things just don’t work out right. When the bad day seems to be taking over, here’s how to turn it around.
Perspective is everything
Change your mind, change your life. When you look at your diabetes as something you can effect, as an opportunity to learn about your own health, you’ve already taken the most important step to a better day and a healthier life. Don’t forget to laugh! Humour helps you see everyday things from a new perspective. That’s why it’s such a great stress-reliever; it pulls you out of your current frame of mind, even if it’s only for a little while.
Keep moving forward
Nobody is perfect, and there are many bumps in the road that everyone – honestly, everyone – with diabetes encounters eventually. Whether it’s over compensating for a low blood sugar, under or over estimating carb counts, or forgetting to ask a question at a doctor’s appointment, you’re not alone. The point is, keep moving forward and make the rest of the day a good one.
When you’re feeling stressed
If you’re already having a bad day, stress can raise your blood sugar level.1 Since we can’t eliminate stress entirely, we can try to manage it. Pay attention to how stress makes you feel physically and emotionally. Begin to relax by removing yourself from the activity that is causing you stress, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Resolve to make a few small changes to your life that will ease the stress you’re dealing with today.
When you’re feeling emotional
When your blood sugar level is off, it affects your mood. Start by treating your highs or lows. Other ways to feel calmer include taking a short walk, taking a shower or bath, calling a friend and sharing your troubles, doing something you love like listening to music, or making a list of the things you’re thankful for – even the lessons you’ve learned from having diabetes.
A word about depression
Everyone has down times, but depression is different. Sadness, grief, anxiety – these are normal human emotions that we experience for brief moments in time, and eventually we recover. Depression, however, is an illness that causes intense feelings of sadness, grief, or anxiety that won’t seem to go away. Your doctor or diabetes educator may not be able to recognise whether you are depressed. If you think you are, ask for help. It may be a difficult first step to take, but it’s the only way to start understanding the feelings you’re having, how they’re affecting your health, and how you’re going to treat it moving forward.2
Staying active is one of the cornerstones of managing your diabetes. If you’re feeling upset or anxious, even a short walk around your neighborhood will make you feel better. It distracts you from dwelling on problems, it releases endorphins, lowers your blood sugar level, and you might find that it helps you get a better night’s sleep, too.
Find a local support group
Surround yourself with people who can help you, emotionally or physically, over the long run. Friends and family love you, but there is something very special about meeting other people with the same experiences and concerns.
Be your own best friend
Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself and demand that your needs are being addressed and met – at work, at home, or even among friends. Don’t let people assume things about your life with diabetes. Have prepared answers to common questions (example: Can you ever eat sugar again?) so you can keep everyone around you informed about what diabetes is and is not.
Cultivating a lifetime of happiness when you have diabetes is completely possible, despite the many ups and downs along the way. You’ll learn a lot of trial-and-error lessons over the years, but every new piece of information about how to better manage your diabetes brings comfort and security. Work with your doctor to be as healthy as you can be. It adds up. Over time, you’ll realise that “I can’t” has been replaced with “I can” in every aspect of your life, on any day
1 International Diabetes Foundation. Type 2 Diabetes and Stress. Available at:https://www.idf.org/sites/default/files/attachments/article_108_en.pdf Accessed June 30, 2015.
2International Diabetes Federation. Diabetes education module 1.2, 2011: Self Management Education. Available at: http://d-net.idf.org/en/login.html?return=aHR0cDovL2QtbmV0LmlkZi5vcmcvZW4vbGlicmFyeS8xNzgtZGlhYmV0ZXMtZWR1Y2F0aW9uLW1vZHVsZXMtMjAxMS5odG1s. Accessed June 30, 2015.