by David Miller, RN, BSN, MSEd, CDCES, LDE, FADCES
The pandemic of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) can be very stressful. For people with diabetes, stress may cause their blood glucose to be elevated. Everyone reacts to stress in different ways, but let’s discuss some techniques to help lower the stress of your clients during these difficult times.
Here are 8 healthy coping strategies for people with diabetes to help lower stress during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Take breaks from social media and watching, reading or listening to the news. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can increase your stress level. Stay informed but limit the amount of time you engage with the news.
- Try to maintain your healthy behaviors that you learned during your sessions with your diabetes care and education specialist:
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Continue counting carbs with your meals and snacks. It is easy to reach for food when you are stressed or bored. Keep a food diary so you will know how much food you are taking in. Be mindful of your eating.
- Keep moving. Get regular physical activity. Walk around the block if the weather is nice and you can walk outside. Use weights and resistance bands if you cannot get out of the house.
- Find ways to cope. Take deep breaths, meditate or stretch. There are several good mobile apps to help with meditation.
- Limit alcohol. Too much alcohol may disrupt your sleep patterns.
- Do activities that you like. Board games or puzzles may help you pass the time.
- Connect with others. Call, text, FaceTime or set up Zoom meetings. It is important to let others know how you are feeling.
- Know the facts. Utilize credible websites.
- Contact your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
- Keep your medical appointments. Many healthcare providers are doing virtual appointments. These appointments can be stressful if you do not have experience with technology. It is important to keep these appointments, especially if you are dealing with complications associated with diabetes or prescription refills. Be prepared for these “visits.” Have your blood sugar records, CGM results or food diaries. The provider may ask to see your injection technique if you recently started on an injectable. Look at your medications and supplies. Know which ones need refills.
- Prepare for coming out of quarantine. You may have mixed emotions when this ends. You may experience fear, worry, sadness, anger, frustration or guilt. Keep a check on your feelings and emotions.
Although everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, remember to remind your clients that they are not experiencing these emotions alone. How they respond can depend on their background and past experiences to similar stressors.
For additional information on COVID-19, visit DiabetesEducator.org/COVID-19.
About the Author:
David Miller, RN, BSN, MSEd, CDCES, LDE, FADCES is the diabetes care coordinator for Community Health Network in Indianapolis. He is a certified diabetes care and education specialist and earned a fellowship in diabetes from ADCES. Miller has been a manager of ICU and med-surg units, education departments and quality services, in addition to serving as a diabetes care and education specialist for Eli Lilly and Astra Zeneca. He has been published in national journals, authored chapters for nursing textbooks, presented at national conferences and has been editor-in-chief for several professional books.
ADCES Perspectives on Diabetes Care
The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.
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