How to Cope with Stress When You Have Diabetes


When you begin to feel stressed about your diabetes, think about how much of what you are feeling is necessary and how much is not. It is natural to experience stressful times, but diabetes is going to be with you for the rest of your life, so minimizing related stress and adopting a healthy, but not overwhelming, regimen is in your best interest.

Diabetes carries other stress factors: worry about how the blood glucose test is going to come out; anxiety about whether you’ll be able to eat on time; dealing with awkward situations in social settings; having people treat you like a disabled person. All these things can be dealt with, of course, but doing so takes en­ergy and creates stress.

Cope with Stress

Diabetes is always there. It is a chronic condition, and there is no way that it is ever going to go away. Some people adjust to this fact relatively quickly and some never do. The sooner you can, the better off you will be and the less stressful the fact of hav­ing diabetes will be. You don’t have to like it—no one likes having a disease—but you do have to get used to it, and you do have to be realistic about doing what you must to take care of yourself. If you get annoyed and resent it every time you have to duck into the bathroom or close the door to your office to do a quick blood glucose test or give yourself a shot of insulin, you are going to be a very unhappy camper. A very stressed-out camper.

Because diabetes is entirely internal, you look like everyone else but you are not. There are, of course, other chronic diseases that don’t have obvious physical manifestations, but diabetes is the most common and one of the most serious. So although you don’t appear to be a person with a disease, you are, and you must be constantly engaged in controlling that disease. Some people find this stressful. It can be, and you certainly don’t want to trivi­alize your diabetes, but again, you have to get used to it. One of the ways I have managed to do this, at least most of the time, is to realize that everyone has hidden problems that compromise their life and must be accommodated, and that a lot of those things are far worse than Type II diabetes in pretty good control.

Blood glucose can fluctuate for many reasons that are outside your control, and this can be frustrating and anger producing. Frustration and anger are powerful stressors. For example, you’ve been “good” for weeks, following your food plan, exercising, and monitoring your blood glucose on a regular schedule—and all of a sudden, you hit a snag and your blood glucose shoots up for no apparent reason. You do what you should to get it back in control, and in a few hours everything is all right, but the stress may lin­ger, putting you at further risk of another episode of elevated blood glucose.

No matter how well you manage your diabetes, it is natural to worry about the future, about whether you will fall victim to a serious long-term complication. There’s only one thing to do about this, and it sounds easier said than done, but you have to relieve yourself of this intense stress: Snap out of it!

Turn on the light, get out of bed, and turn on the TV or read a book. Roll over, wake your bed partner, and make love. If it happens during the day, do something other than what you were doing when the worry began to intrude on your thoughts. Go to a movie. Go to an art exhibit that you’ve been meaning to attend. Go shopping and buy yourself a special treat. Tell your boss you’re not feeling well and leave work, and get out of the house if you are there all alone.

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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