These are uncertain and difficult days for everyone. As people who have diabetes ourselves, we understand that many of us, along with our families, are facing additional stresses, concerns, and fears around managing diabetes right now.
Many may feel anxious, overwhelmed, confused, frustrated, or helpless. It’s important to know that you are not alone in your feelings and that you are doing great.
In fact, you’re doing awesome.
It’s easy for those of us with diabetes to get down ourselves in times like these. In those moments where we realize we went outside of our carb comfort zone for the day, or forgot to take our nightly medications because we were too busy trying to wrangle the kids to bed, or all of the millions of other curveballs that seem to be zooming towards us more regularly these days.
And when those moments hit, they can hit hard. We feel defeated. We feel frustrated. We feel even more stressed than we already are.
That’s why it is so important that you know: you are doing awesome.
You’re doing what you can to make it through these uncharted waters. You’re discovering ways to overcome these new, daily hurdles. You’re working on it. You are getting through it.
You start today, and continue on tomorrow. You just keep swimming.
To help you out with that last one (one of the greatest mantras of all time), here are a few tips to help you keep going right now.
Focus On What You Can Influence
While many things are beyond our control right now, there are some areas in life where we may be able to effect some positive change. For example, are there some parts of your diabetes goals list that you can take on right now -- trying some low carb recipes you’ve heard about, working on taking your insulin before meals, going for walks after meals? If you’ve recently found yourself with more extra time on your hands, give those lofty goals a go.
Concentrate on Today
Planning for the future is important, but it’s easy to get anxious and fearful when we fixate on the “what-ifs” and how things might turn out many weeks, months, and years from now. Instead, tackle things that are on your plate today. Taking on life’s challenges one day at a time is key. If you feel flooded about the future, recognize it -- then take a step back. Do something that involves your senses and grounds you in the now. Deep breath. Light a scented candle. Take a shower. Breathe in nature. Self-soothe until you find yourself grounded again.
Remind Yourself: You Have the Skills To Figure Things Out
You’ve been through trials and tribulations before, you can do it again. Remember the day you found out you had diabetes? And look at you now! Think about a past obstacle you faced, head-on, and how you came out (all the better for it) on the other side. Consider the strengths you leaned on to get you through; use them now. Trust in your ability to face what life gives you. You don’t need to have it all figured out today, it will come with time.
Life with diabetes can be isolating under normal circumstances. During these times, it can feel desolate. Connect with your loved ones in any way that you can. This may be a gift for them, as well as for yourself. Then, go beyond -- make connections in the diabetes online community. There are forums, blogs, Facebook Groups, and all sorts of ways to connect with others who are experiencing every physical and mental burden you’re going through now. Just get out there (in the interwebs, of course)!
Get Physical, When You Can
Getting active is important for your diabetes and your mood. You probably know this already! Every bit of activity counts. If you can walk around the neighborhood for 20 minutes, you’re doing such good for both body and mind. But also realize that it’s OK not to get a workout in. It’s OK if you’re not in a place to make huge, sweeping transformations in your life. Do what’s best for you, in your situation.
Side effects of gratitude include joy, peace, clam, and a break in the cycle of gloom. Take a moment (it can be as little as 60 seconds) each day to think about some of the people or things in your life that you are grateful for -- the committed healthcare workers serving your community, a person you love, your health, a sunny day, your functioning senses that enable you to perceive the beauty in the world, or toilet paper.
Strive for Normalcy, But Be Flexible
It’s great if you can (mostly) keep doing what you’ve always done. But it’s also okay to acknowledge that your old routine is hard -- maybe even impossible -- to keep up with right now. Normalize what you can: your schedule for the day or maybe just the hour, a consistent bedtime, a weekly meal plan. Normalizing some sort of a routine is helpful, even if different. The mind responds well to momentum, and scheduling gives us a sense of moving forward.
You Won't Get Stuck Here, You Will Survive
Coronavirus wasn’t on the calendar, so it’s OK if you’re feeling like your entire world is upside down right now. Validate that. Validate all the emotions you’re feeling during this time.
But also make time to rejoice in the little things. Enjoy your 15 minutes of alone-time in the morning with your cup of coffee; pull out that side art project from 10 years ago. Use this time to absorb all the new opportunities around you. Although these times are challenging, they may hold an opportunity to reassess and deepen our relationship to ourselves and others.
And remember, you’re doing awesome.