Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Better mental health means better performance in life’s responsibilities, better connections with those we love, and more peace in our day to day lives. “Mental health” is a different term than “mental illness”. Even if you have no mental illnesses, your mental health is constantly affected by anything that happens in your life, positive or negative! Therefore, mental health needs consistent care and maintenance in all stages of life. Maintaining mental health is also vital for good physical health. For example, depression increases the risk of cardiac health issues. Also, stress hormones can affect our physical health by affecting things like the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure and blood glucose.
So, Why is Self-care Important?
Self-care means taking the time to do things you love – the things that allow you to disconnect, relax, and feel joy. Self-care activities help you improve your mental health, and in turn your physical health too! This is because taking time for ourselves helps us manage our stress better in the long term and increases our overall energy. Therefore, taking even a very small part of your day for self-care can have a very big impact on your overall health!
Depression, Anxiety, & Diabetes Distress
Living with diabetes makes a person 20% more likely to have anxiety. People living with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to experience depression. Only 25% to 50% of people living with diabetes who have depression get proper diagnosis and treatment. In any 18-month period of diabetes management, you are 33% to 50% likely to experience diabetes distress.
Diabetes & Anxiety
People living with diabetes are prone to anxiety because of the demands of long term diabetes management. Stress hormones also affect blood glucose levels in unpredictable ways making diabetes management more difficult. It is also easy to confuse symptoms of hypos with symptoms of anxiety (or vice versa) because they are very similar! It is therefore important to check your blood glucose levels if you are feeling anxious, to ensure treating any potential lows.
As mentioned earlier, diabetes distress is very common, especially among those who have been managing diabetes for many years. Anyone living with diabetes has experienced diabetes distress at least once. For example, you have been doing so well at managing your diabetes and meeting your lifestyle goals, but you suddenly develop a diabetes complication. In such moments, it is common to feel like your condition controls you and not the other way around. This overwhelming feeling of diabetes distress tends to cause unhealthy habits and less effective diabetes management.
Dealing with Diabetes Distress
Get support from your diabetes care team! During challenging times, it is critical to book an appointment with your endocrinologist or diabetes educator. They are the experts on medical advice for overcoming diabetes challenges and complications. Also, ask for a referral to a psychologist if you have been experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms.
Book a consulting session with a diabetes coach to support you with goal-setting and getting back on track. Diabetes support groups have also been found to help overcome times of diabetes distress. The important thing is to remember that you can and will overcome this!
Start by taking one step with the intention of self care. Then continue to rebuild, one goal at a time, remembering to celebrate every small win.
Visit our Diabetes Coaching & Training Services offered to support people living with diabetes to never feel like your condition controls your life!
Resources: CDC, Journal of general internal medicine, Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Diabetes Care
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