AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors: Healthy Coping

Life is filled with stress. There’s the daily kind (traffic!), and there are also more serious issues such as divorce or money problems. Add in the challenges of managing diabetes, and stress sometimes can feel overwhelming. It’s important to find healthy ways to cope so you don’t turn to harmful habits such as smoking, overeating, drinking alcohol or being less active. This is especially true if you have diabetes. Having a lot of stress can increase your blood sugar levels, make you feel more negative and may lead to bad decisions.

The good news is there are many healthy ways to cope with stress. A diabetes educator will help you find healthy ways to cope that work with your lifestyle, including:

Your diabetes educator also can offer some tips for dealing with stress, including: 

  • Seeking support: It’s really important to have a network of people you can turn to. Build healthy relationships with your spouse, loved ones or friends. Talk to them when you are upset so they can help you. Seek chances to meet other people with diabetes so you can remind yourself that you aren’t alone.
  • Moving your body: When you are sad or worried about something, go for a walk or bike ride. Research shows when you are active, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel better. 
  • Thinking positive: It may sound too simple, but having a positive attitude really helps. Think about and celebrate the successes you’ve had managing diabetes (even small ones). Think about the people and activities in your life that make it enjoyable. Recalling the good stuff will help you get through the tough times.
  • Being good to yourself: It’s important to feel good about your successes. But it’s also important not to beat yourself up if you fall short of a goal. Maybe you’re expecting too much. Maybe you’re trying to change things that really are beyond your control. Do the best you can, look at what worked and what didn’t and then move on. Do something that you enjoy every day.

Everyone has good days and bad days. It’s normal to feel discouraged from time to time. Sometimes, however, the stress or overwhelming feelings you’re having are a sign of something bigger. A diabetes educator will talk to you about signs that you may have depression, such as: 

  • Lack of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Not wanting to talk to family or friends about your diabetes or other stresses
  • Sleeping most of the day
  • Not seeing the point of taking care of yourself
  • Feeling as though diabetes is defeating you or that you can’t take care of yourself

The most important thing is to realize that help is available. Your diabetes educator, your doctor, and your support system such as your family and friends are there for you and can help you cope.

Download a flyer on healthy coping, which includes a chart that helps you figure out a plan for coping with stress, here: