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10 Diabetes Distress Coping Strategies

Managing diabetes can be challenging and overwhelming. When all of this feels like too much to deal with, you may have something called Diabetes Distress. This happens when emotions like worry, frustration, anger become overwhelming and burnout makes it hard to take care of yourself and the daily demands of diabetes.

The good news is there are ways to cope with diabetes and manage stress. Here are 10 tips that can help:

  1. Pay attention to your feelings. Almost everyone feels frustrated or stressed from time to time. Managing diabetes can add to these feelings and make you feel overwhelmed. Having these feelings for more than 1-2 weeks may signal that you need help coping with your diabetes in a healthy way.
  2. Talk with your health care providers about your feelings. Let your doctor, nurse, diabetes educator, psychologist, therapist, or social worker know how you’re feeling. They can help you problem-solve concerns about your diabetes. They may also recommend or refer you to other health care providers for further help.
  3. Talk to your health care providers about negative reactions others may have about your diabetes. Your health care providers can help you manage feelings of being judged by others because you have diabetes. It is important not to feel that you have to hide your diabetes from other people.
  4. Ask if help is available for the costs of diabetes medicines and supplies. If you are worried about the cost of your medicines, talk with your pharmacist and other health care providers. They may know about government or other programs that can assist people with costs. You can also check with community health centers to see if they know about programs that help people get insulin, diabetes medicines, and supplies (test trips, syringes, etc.).
  5. Talk with your family and friends. Gain support by telling those closest to you how you feel about having diabetes. Be honest about the problems you’re having in dealing with diabetes. Just telling others how you feel helps to relieve some of the stress. However, sometimes the people around you may add to your stress. Let them know how and when you need them to help you.
  6. Allow loved ones to help you take care of your diabetes. Those closest to you can help you in several ways. They can remind you to take your medicines, help monitor your blood sugar levels, join you in being physically active, and prepare healthy meals. They can also learn more about diabetes and go with you when you visit your doctor. Ask your loved ones to help with your diabetes in ways that are useful to you.
  7. Talk to other people with diabetes. Other people with diabetes understand some of the things you are going through. Ask them how they deal with their diabetes and what works for them. They can help you feel less lonely and overwhelmed. Ask your health care providers about diabetes support groups in your community or online.
  8. Do one thing at a time. When you think about everything you need to do to manage your diabetes, it can be overwhelming. To deal with diabetes distress, make a list of all of the tasks you have to do to take care of yourself each day. Try to work on each task separately, one at a time.
  9. Pace yourself. Move toward your goals at a pace that feels realistic for your daily lifestyle and timeline. You don’t have to meet your goals immediately.
  10. Take time to do things you enjoy. Set aside time in your day to do something you really love. Taking breaks that refresh you mentally and physically are easy if you make the time. This can include stretching, reading, walking, hanging out with friends, exercise, or any other hobbies you enjoy.

If you notice feelings of frustration, tiredness, or an inability to make decisions about your diabetes care, take action. Tell your family, friends, and health care providers. It's important for your physical and mental health to get the support you need.

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