Learn how to combat diabetes burnout and stay on top of your health.
Diabetes burnout is sometimes described as a feeling of apathy and disinterest with regard to managing your diabetes. It can negatively affect outcomes and keep people from achieving their health goals. This apathy can lead to avoiding or ignoring self-care requirements, which can put your health and wellness at risk—it's not fun, not productive, and decidedly not a comfortable way to spend a few days ... or a year
If you're feeling a little tired of the daily slog of living with diabetes, you are not alone. Thankfully, there are things we can do to help improve our mental wellness in pursuit of maintaining our physical health.
How do you climb out from the sticky sludge of apathy and burnout? There are ways, I promise. Let's explore a few:
Acknowledge That You're in a Tough Spot
One of the toughest things to do is own the fact that you're struggling with diabetes. Sometimes, we're so close to our own emotions that we can't see the burnout forest for the trees; other times, we're reluctant to admit that we need a hand. Be brave. If managing diabetes feels like an uphill battle, don't be afraid to say it. "Out loud" is better than "bottled up."
You are not alone in managing diabetes—and you definitely aren't alone in dealing with diabetes burnout. There are dozens of online resources you can turn to in search of a "me, too!" kindred spirit, or you can reach out to a local diabetes advocacy branch (e.g., JDRF, the American Diabetes Association, local hospital organizations) to find in-person support. If peer-to-peer support isn't hitting the mark, consider meeting with a mental health professional.
Find Your Outlet
Does exercise make you feel better? Would joining a book club or knitting group provide the distraction you need? How about a cooking class where you can take out your frustrations by chopping up some vegetables? It doesn't always have to be such a hard focus on diabetes; find an activity that makes you feel good and sink your teeth in. Sometimes, a good, old-fashioned distraction can go a long way.
Celebrate Small Victories
The diabetes to-do list can be long and somewhat daunting, so make sure you're marking and celebrating those smaller successes. Did you remember to check your fasting blood sugar every day this week? Did your A1C come down half a percent? Did you cook a healthy meal at home that tasted great? Every step toward better health is worth it, no matter how small, so be sure to give yourself high fives for every positive effort, and let those efforts snowball into something that makes you smile.
Living with diabetes and struggling to manage your symptoms can be frustrating, but it can be dealt with effectively. Keep making those small changes, don't give up on your health, and build on all your victories, no matter how small!
Remember that you don't have to be perfect; you just have to keep trying.
By Kerri Sparling
Kerri Sparling has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1986, when she was diagnosed at the age of seven. She is an internationally recognized diabetes advocate. Kerri is the creator and author of Six Until Me, which she established in 2005 and which remains one of the most widely-read diabetes patient blogs, reaching a global audience of patients, caregivers, and others in the industry. She has been featured on NPR, US News and World Report, CBNC, Yahoo! Health, LA Times, and The Lancet, among other national outlets.
Diabetes Forecast, 5 Ways to Avoid Diabetes Burnout
American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Distress
Diabetes Self-Management, Extinguishing Diabetes Burnout
Joslin Diabetes Center, Avoid Diabetes Burnout
ASweetLife, 7 Ways to Cope With Diabetes Burnout