Diabetes has long been a tough battle to fight for those affected by it. It changes a person’s life to a great extent. We know that it has many effects on a person’s physical health, but we need to know more about its effects on the emotional and mental well-being of a person.
More than 80 million people in India are suffering from diabetes and most of them often wonder, “how to manage diabetes?”. You can find a lot of things on searching and but less on how to cope up with it emotionally!
So in this blog, I decided to discuss some tips to manage diabetes, the emotional impacts of living with diabetes as well as the right way on how to manage your diabetes.
But first things first. Let’s know a little bit about diabetes
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic, metabolic disease caused by an increase in the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It causes severe damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves over a long period of time.
Living with diabetes affects not only the body but also the mind. Physicians are mainly concerned with the physical aspects of the disease and even though they are important, mental health is equally essential.
Being a diabetic, you should not neglect your emotional and mental well-being but learn to control your diabetes. Keep reading to find answers to all your questions about how to manage diabetes and your emotional health.
Dealing with finding out that you have Diabetes
The first major blow you get is when you find out that you have high blood sugar levels for quite some time, resulting in being diagnosed as a diabetic. This news could cause a wide range of unpleasant emotions because you might feel that there is no going back from it.
You might wonder, “How to manage diabetes?”, “How to control diabetes?” or majorly, “How to cure diabetes?”
At the time of diagnosis, you undergo a series of feelings that have been studied and seem to form a pattern. The following stages of emotions are experienced:
Upon receiving news such as being diagnosed with diabetes, the first emotion that you experience is denial. You may oppose believing in the diagnosis at first and take it lightly. An important factor for denial could be the fact that you do not feel any major physical symptoms or complications at that time. This denial prevents you from taking the disease seriously and seeking proper treatment with necessary lifestyle changes right from the beginning.
Once you cannot deny your current condition, you start feeling frustrated and angry towards the disease. You start hating your own selves for having developed this condition and overthink why this happened to you.
The negative emotional reaction to diabetes further worsens the condition.
From anger and irritation, you get into a feeling of guilt i.e. a feeling that arises when you think that you have done something wrong to your body. These feelings often arise when you have many responsibilities.
You feel guilty about not taking care of your health before and how this development would affect your ability to manage your responsibilities.
You get worried about the people around you and how diabetes would affect the entire family.
- Sorrow/ depression
With time, the guilt feeling changes to a feeling of loss and sadness. There might be an increase in symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of interest in daily activities and changes in sleep pattern.
This is the stage of sorrow or depression wherein you feel sad about your condition. Without searching for ways of how to manage your diabetes, you fall prey to sadness. This may last a while and affect your mental well-being deeply.
The last and final stage is that of acceptance. It may take up to a year or more for you to accept your diagnosis completely.
It’s important for you to have patience, emotional support from others, a proper understanding of it and how to manage diabetes to finally arrive at this stage.
Once you have accepted your current situation, you can move ahead and take the necessary steps on how to manage your diabetes and make the best of your life even with diabetes.
You may feel confused, sad and upset about it and it’s normal. It is hard to escape these emotions. But letting go of these feelings after a while would be a healthy thing for both your mind and body.
There are several ways to cope with these emotions. Here’s what you can do to ease them:
- Gain information
Learning about your condition i.e. learning about how you can manage your diabetes and being prepared with the right information will give you power over the disease. You will look at solutions rather than problems.
- Plan your days
Planning and following a healthy routine can do wonders for your emotional health. Every task done right will make you feel in control. Eating healthy food, exercising and some other productive activities will help you get a better mindset.
Maintaining a diary is a great coping mechanism. It will help you organise your thoughts and release your negative emotions to find a positive reaction to them.
Talking to your friends, family or even a therapist will help you cope. Having a chronic condition like diabetes can make you feel alone and out of place but it’s not the end of the world. Talk to the people you love and thus you can try to control your diabetes!
Emotional journey throughout Diabetes
Along with the physical effects of diabetes, you can suffer from certain feelings like anxiety, depression, and diabetes distress. Let’s talk about it:
Diabetes or no diabetes, we live in a state of fear and worry. But if this fear and anxiety affect our work, relationships, and daily life then it is a cause of concern. Especially if you’re diabetic, you may worry extra about your condition in addition to the everyday struggles.
Certain symptoms like constant worrying, feeling nervous, inability to relax, increased heartbeat, sweating, trembling, chest tightness, and upset stomach, lasting for more than 2 weeks can indicate a problem of anxiety. It should be addressed and treated immediately to control your diabetes.
Everyone feels sad once in a while but depression is a serious condition with the constant feeling of hopelessness and fatigue. If you’ve been feeling the sadness harder than ever for more than 2 weeks, you might be depressed. Start working on it.
- Diabetes distress
This medical term has been created recently by some doctors specifically for diabetics to refer to a condition when you’re tired of dealing with your diabetic state along with life’s other responsibilities.
It’s only natural to feel this way because diabetes comes with several more responsibilities in your daily life.
Diabetic distress is something more than just worry. It’s when you’re feeling all the anxiety, depression, frustration, stress and other emotions all at once.
Want to know more about how stress, diabetes and meditation are related? Read our blog — Stress, meditation and diabetes.
How to improve your emotional health and control your diabetes?
Emotional health MUST NOT be neglected at any cost. As much as your physical health is important in diabetes, emotional health is as essential.
You should address any and all emotions you’re feeling and seek help at the earliest and focus on how to manage your diabetes. To take better care of yourself emotionally, you can try the following:
- Maintain healthy habits
A healthy body is better known to handle stress. Develop and maintain healthy habits like eating healthy meals, avoiding caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
It may seem difficult at first to turn around your lifestyle but the trick is to do it step by step.
Setting small goals for each day can encourage you to make this shift. For example, cut down from 4 to 3 cups of tea in a day and then eventually to 2. You may even be able to quit it in a matter of time.
- Regular exercise
A simple walk in the park, gym, yoga or even dancing are some ways you can release those “feel-good” hormones in your body.
Physical activity for 30–45 minutes a day not only makes you feel good but also increases the insulin sensitivity in your body and helps you control your diabetes.
If you don’t have much time to exercise, give a quick read to our blog, “Simple home exercise routine for a healthier you” for easy movements to add to your everyday regime.
- Adequate sleep
Sleep can solve a lot more problems than you think. Having a nightly routine and getting proper sleep will help you feel refreshed. It re-energizes your body and mind to face a new day head-on.
- Setting goals
Be mindful of your present condition and set the bar accordingly. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to a feeling of disappointment which has a negative impact on your state of mind.
So set achievable and realistic goals and do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
Meditation and deep breathing can be great ways to soothe your mind. Practising meditation or deep breathing for 15 minutes a day can have a beneficial effect on your mental health.
- Reward yourself
Don’t forget to treat yourself every now and then for achieving your goals, or just for the fun of it. Trust me, you deserve it.
Although diabetes affects one person physically, mentally it can affect the family as a whole. Family therapy could be a good option to get through a difficult time together.
- Join support groups
Talking and discussing your feelings with other people going through the same thing may help you find a positive outlook and be strong. It is good to share your feelings with a bunch of people who may be going through the same things.
- Be grateful
Try to count your blessings and be thankful for all that you have, and not what you don’t.
You are not alone! Many people are experiencing highs and lows in their blood sugar levels and find it difficult to cope with the disease emotionally. As important as physical health is, maintaining your emotional health should be a priority too.
There is help available for anyone who needs it. Following the advice given above and just keep going to find the good in life, even without sugar, may help in the long run. Remember, it may seem hard but diabetes is NOT the end.
At Zyla, we have a team of Doctors, nutritionists, psychologists and physiotherapists who provide personalised care and treatment to improve your diabetes and overall health.
Start your health journey today by downloading our Zyla app.
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