Gary McClain, PhD, is a therapist, patient advocate, and writer who specializes in helping clients—as well as their family members and professional caregivers—deal with the emotional impact of chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

Don’t let diabetes get you down! Help prevent or relieve diabetes burnout with these uplifting and empowering thoughts from our own Dr. Gary.

1. Living with uncertainty

Uncertainty brings up all kinds of fear. And humans are good at using avoidance to keep the fear away. But being afraid is normal. How about fighting the fear with facts?

2. Setbacks

Remember that a setback does not have to be a catastrophe. Yes, there will be setbacks. Maybe a basketful. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recover.

3. Information is power

Without real information, our minds create scary stories. Get the facts. Know your options. Protect your health.

4. And you were expecting?

Expecting to make big changes overnight is a setup for a letdown. So break your goals down into small pieces. What can you commit to today? What about tomorrow? Tackle changes one by one. Set priorities.

5. Evidence

If there’s one thing a negative thought can’t stand up to it’s the truth. Track your progress by keeping a list of your successes. Pull your list out and review it when you are having a bad day. Evidence! That’s what’s real.

6. Living with diabetes is a journey…

…traveled one step at a time. Not where you want to be in coping with your chronic condition? How about saying this: I’m not there yet. But on the way!

7. Have you been here before?

Chances are, you’ve had bad days in the past. How did you get through the last one? Retracing the steps you took to get you out of your last bad day might help uncover some coping techniques to help you get through this one.

8. Look out for number one

Place your own self-care at the top of your list of priorities. After all, that’s what makes all the good things in your life that much more possible!

9. Take off your boxing gloves

Yes, it’s totally unfair. Your life was going just fine. But the problem is still here and it has to be solved. Fighting reality is a losing battle. When you give up fighting yourself, you free up energy that can be dedicated toward finding a solution.

10. Don’t make your whole life bad

When a problem comes along, it’s only human to feel like everything in life is going wrong. But one problem doesn’t have to define your life. Remind yourself of the things in your life that are going well. Perspective!

11. Start each day with gratitude

Replace the “don’t have” and the “should have” with what’s good, what makes you happy, who’s there for you, and what’s possible.


12. Pat yourself on the back

Give yourself some credit for facing the challenges in your life. For doing the best you can. For facing life on life’s terms. In other words, give yourself a break, and show yourself some patience.

13. Reconsider your expectations

What were you expecting (to happen, receive, hear, etc.)? And were your expectations realistic? Having realistic expectations is a great way to avoid the disappointment that can lead to angry feelings. And remember: you’re not in control of everything.

14. Look for the humor

Recognizing the humor in a situation can go a long way toward balancing out that rage-rush that anger can bring on, as well as help you to keep your perspective. Have a good laugh about how life just seems to get in the way of our plans.

15. Have a heart

Living with diabetes brings up all kinds of emotions. Accept your own feelings—all of them—and let yourself be human. Give yourself a break, and you’ll be that much more able to give others a break, too. We’re all in this together.

16. Take care of yourself

Not taking care of yourself can leave you feeling emotionally or physically depleted. Take time for yourself every day. Take a walk, listen to music, do something you enjoy.

17. Get back on your horse

Challenging situations are great teachers. So with the lesson in hand, make the decision to do your best to apply what you learned. Move forward one step at a time. Don’t forget to ask for help.

18. Smile

Don’t wait until you feel like smiling. Smile and let the feelings catch up. Set the mood at your house by being the first to smile. See if you can set the mood.

managing diabetes

19. Tough love

Gently, but firmly, remind yourself that your regimen helps prevent further problems down the road. Stay compliant because that’s what you do, each and every day. And not only when you feel like it.

20. Stay connected

After all, nobody knows what it’s like to live with diabetes better than someone who is traveling this road along beside you. Talk, vent, share ideas. Start a discussion. Don’t go through this alone!

21. Give

Reach out to someone who can use some support. Be a listening ear. Share some words of encouragement. When you give of yourself, you are a blessing to the other person. Feel the boomerang effect as the blessing comes back to you.

22. Be mindful

Practice being in the present moment, and not caught up in rehashing the past or worrying about the future. Be aware of the pleasures and the possibilities that exist all around you. Watch. Listen. Right now.

23. Say thank you

Take a moment at the beginning of each day to identify something you are grateful for. As simple as your morning coffee, a sunshiny day, the sound of your children playing in the backyard. Attitude of gratitude.

24. What’s your vision?

Take time to create a vision for the person that you want to be in life—how you want to live, what you want to accomplish, what you can do to be there for the people that you care about. Remember the road to happiness and fulfillment in life is not a straight line. So consider alternate routes. Enjoy the view.

25. Two steps forward, one step back

But two steps forward again. When setbacks happen, look how far you’ve come in the face of a lot of challenges. Celebrate your own resilience! And challenge yourself to build even more resilience into your life!

26. Be proactive

While we can’t always avoid situations that might cause stress, we can make sure that we are as prepared as possible. How are your diet and exercise plans going? How is the balance in your life? Getting the support you need?

27. Let yourself be human

Go easy on yourself. If you do, you will find it’s a whole lot easier to let other people be themselves. In other words, forgiveness starts from within.

28. Keep the faith

Remind yourself, each and every day, that there is more to life than your day-to-day experience. Stay focused not so much on what isn’t and can’t be, but on what’s possible. Put one foot before the other and keep moving forward.

29. What’s new?

Start the day by asking yourself: “What’s new today? What can I do today that I didn’t do yesterday?” What can I bring into my life? If your life’s being shaken up, then get shaking!

30. Make a spiritual connection

Contemplate the greater meaning in life. Connect with what is really important. Get involved in a religious tradition. Or define what it means for you to be spiritual. What’s a better way to experience inner joy?

More from Dr. Gary:

7 Steps to Help Make a Bad Day Better
Having Fun Yet? Seven Steps toward Bringing More Fun into Your Life
Keeping a Journal: The Joys and the Benefits