Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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5 Ways to Stay Sharp and Focused: Mental Health Tips for People with Diabetes

Apr 27, 2016

CHICAGO – APRIL 27, 2016 – As May is designated as Mental Health Month, the American Association of Diabetes Educators offers 5 key strategies for people with diabetes to make sure that they stay focused and mentally healthy.  

“Due to the complexity of the disease and its impact on everyday activities, it’s a legitimate challenge sometimes for people with diabetes to avoid becoming ‘stressed out,’” said Joe Nelson, a therapist and expert on helping people manage their diabetes. Nelson recommends several strategies for people with diabetes:

1. Get the support you need and connect with others
First, identify what you want in the way of support for dealing with your diabetes.  You may need your family to offer support through encouraging words. You might want to enlist coworkers’ support by telling them about what you have to deal with and let them know that this will help you feel encouraged. Or maybe you need something from your diabetes educator that will help you mange your disease better. Don’t be afraid to ask.

2. Accept the things you cannot change
If stress or personal barriers are affecting how you deal with your diabetes, recognize that while certain things are out of your control, such as having the disease, or being able to predict individual blood sugar levels, there are many things you can control, such as how you manage it.

3. Develop regular practices of caring for yourself

Exercise, meditation, yoga, tai chi, mindful walking -- all of these disciplines can refresh and renew your attitude.

4. Develop skills that help you live in the moment
Mindfulness-based meditation has become quite popular partially because it facilitates calmness and intentionality about how one lives his or her life.  It is also helpful to develop hobbies and participate in fun activities.

5. Get a mental health check-up 
People who have diabetes have twice the risk of developing depression. And if you develop depression you also won’t take care of your diabetes as well so get to know a therapist who can do this assessment and will act as a confidant for you to talk with when diabetes becomes tough. The truth is diabetes is not easy and having someone to discuss the ups and downs with is motivating and can also help you ride the waves of living with it.

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