diabetes self-care tips
diabetes self-care tips

Living With Diabetes? Here Are 6 Tips For Better Self-Care

Posted on January 11, 2024 by Henry Ford Health Staff
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Diabetes management requires a lot of daily attention—taking finger sticks, tracking your blood glucose levels and remembering to take your daily medications. While these steps are critical for maintaining healthy blood sugar and warding off potential complications, they can be stressful.

Incorporating some self-care activities into your routines can help boost your physical and emotional health and make it easier to manage diabetes, says Kathleen Estrada, M.D., an endocrinologist at Henry Ford Health.

“When I think of self-care, I think of other aspects of life like your stress level, sleep, diet and exercise, which can play a role in diabetes care,” she says. “When mood or emotions aren’t being addressed, that ultimately affects how you live with diabetes.”

Living Well With Diabetes

Self-care is a term for activities that focus on all aspects of well-being—mental, emotional and physical. Many forms of self-care have the added benefit of helping keep blood sugar in a healthy range, Dr. Estrada notes. She recommends the following for living well with diabetes:

Don’t tackle your eating habits alone

People with diabetes have to make many food decisions throughout the day. “It can be easy to slip away from those healthy eating habits and get tired if you’re making the same menu every time. Having ideas from dietitians can be really helpful,” Dr. Estrada says. Teaming up with a dietitian can help simplify healthy eating, whether you need help eating more protein at breakfast or packing on-the-go snacks when running errands.

Address your stress

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“Diabetes can be a burden to take on, and sometimes that aspect of it isn’t recognized,” Dr. Estrada notes. She encourages destressing with fun activities. Anything you like to do, from movie-watching to reading or playing pickleball, can be a stress reliever.

Consider lowering your stress levels with mindfulness exercises, deep breathing or spending time outdoors. If you need more help, reach out to a professional. “There’s nothing wrong with seeking counseling or help when you have a chronic illness; those resources are there,” says Dr. Estrada.

Move your body in ways you enjoy

Exercise has many benefits: It can help control stress, manage blood sugar and promote healthy sleep. If you don’t look forward to your workouts, it’s time to switch things up. Dancing, walks with friends, bike riding or spinning, indoor rock climbing or swimming are all great ways to get physical activity that feels like fun.

Seek better slumber

Sinking into a relaxation routine prior to sleep may be the key to a better night’s slumber. Whether it’s a warm bubble bath with soothing music, journaling, reading or ten minutes of stretching, create a pre-sleep routine that helps you wind down.

Dr. Estrada cautions against scrolling social media or streaming your favorite show at bedtime. “Avoid working with electronics before bed because that can affect how you fall asleep,” says Dr. Estrada. Focusing on relaxation as a critical nightly activity (just like brushing your teeth) may help settle your body and mind.

If you’re having problems staying asleep or not feeling refreshed in the morning, talk to your doctor. It could be a sign of a sleep disorder. In particular, people with Type 2 diabetes are more prone to sleep apnea.

Build social connections

Meaningful social connections are important for everyone. Close relationships are a source of support and encouragement throughout life’s challenges. And being lonely can actually have negative health impacts.

Some people with chronic illnesses like diabetes find connecting with others who share the same health challenges especially helpful. “Support from peers can help you feel less alone in the diagnosis from day to day,” says Dr. Estrada. “Ask your doctor or endocrinologist for a list of local diabetes support groups. At Henry Ford Health, our Diabetes Education Department is an additional resource for finding the right support group."

Stay positive

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects many parts of your life, but that doesn’t mean complications are inevitable, says Dr. Estrada. She recommends focusing on what you can control to prevent complications. “Keeping a positive frame of mind is good for your mental health, which helps you take better care of yourself,” she says.

Adding a self-care routine is important, but it should not be a source of stress. If it feels like too much, scale back. “Focus on one thing you can work on versus taking everything on,” Dr. Estrada says. “Having a good balance can really help get you to that goal of living as healthy and feeling as well as you can.”


Reviewed by Dr. Kathleen Estrada, an endocrinologist who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center -- Columbus and Henry Ford Medical Center -- New Center One.
Categories : FeelWell
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