This content originally appeared on Everyday Health. Republished with permission.
By Marijke Vroomen-Durning, RN
Medically Reviewed by Kacy Church, MD
Type 2 diabetes requires near-constant management and monitoring: You have to keep tabs on your blood sugar levels, your medication, what you eat and when, how active you are, and more. Concerns about potential complications may also be taking up space in your brain.
It’s not easy, and caring for your emotional health shouldn’t be pushed to the side. Research shows learning to cope with stress can promote mental well-being, as well as help you manage diabetes more effectively.
The Basics of Type 2 Diabetes Burnout
“Living with diabetes can be challenging. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by diabetes and all that comes with it,” says Jenny DeJesus, CDCES, a nurse practitioner at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
Burnout brought about by coping with type 2 diabetes can be defined as being overwhelmed or exhausted by physical and/or emotional stress, perceived or real. You may feel at times that sticking with your care plan is more than you can handle. It’s easy, for example, to get frustrated having to monitor your blood sugar and watch your diet. Know that these are normal feelings, and you can take steps to regain a positive outlook.
Doing so can help ward off mental disorders, including anxiety and depression, which are measurable risks for people with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This burden can make it especially hard to manage diabetes.
Tips for Preventing Diabetes Burnout
According to the CDC’s National Diabetes Education Program, you can help prevent negative feelings from escalating by identifying ways to ease stress. Here are a few suggestions:
Take some time each day to meditate, practice deep breathing, or enjoy a hobby.
Keep a journal of what you eat, your glucose levels, what bothers you, and what makes you feel better.
Find ways to divide your management plan into small steps to make them easier to accomplish.
Finding Ways to Cope With the Challenges of Living With Diabetes
Because managing type 2 diabetes is typically a lifelong commitment, it’s practically a given that you’ll experience burnout at some point — despite your best efforts. The first step toward dealing with it is to recognize you may need to accept help in some aspects of your diabetes care. Try to figure out what factors caused you to burn out, and seek help to address them so you can restore your quality of life.
Reaching out for support from friends and family is essential to relieving diabetes burnout. “They can help you put things into perspective and get back on track,” says DeJesus.
Randy Pike, a news reporter in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada, who has been living with type 2 diabetes for more than 15 years, knows how helpful family can be. “My wife generally notices signs that I need to eat better than I do,” he says.
The more your family and friends know and understand type 2 diabetes, the greater a resource they can be for you. They can go with you to diabetes-care and education classes or help you stick with your eating, exercise, and medication routine at home.
Your healthcare team is another important resource. Doctors, nurses, and dietitians who specialize in diabetes care understand problems you may be having. The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists has a tool for finding diabetes education programs in your area.
What’s more, there are plenty of options for connecting with peers who are also managing diabetes, which is known to support mental health and diabetes management. For example, a meta-analysis published in June 2020 in The Diabetes Educator found that online communities for diabetes boosted the overall mental and physical health of people with type 2 diabetes who participated, ultimately helping them better manage their diabetes. If you’d like to trade advice and relate to the struggles and triumphs of other people going through the same thing, you can find a community through the American Diabetes Association or on social media.
If you discuss your situation with your family, your care team, and your peers, they will be able to offer you insights to better manage whatever is troubling you.
Additional reporting by Kristeen Cherney.