Dr. Gary McClain is a therapist, patient advocate and educator who works primarily with individuals facing chronic medical conditions to help them cope with the emotional side of their illness. In this series, Dr. Gary answers questions from the Diabetic Connect community about how to cope with the mental and emotional challenges of diabetes.

Do you have a question for Dr. Gary? Email it to askdrgary@diabeticconnect.com.

I feel like I'm doing everything right. I've lost weight, I'm eating better, I take my metformin and insulin, but I just can't seem to control my blood sugar. I'm so frustrated, I want to give up. How do you I stay upbeat when everything I'm doing right doesn't seem to be working?

First, congratulations on taking such good care of yourself! But I can understand your disappointment and frustration that you aren’t seeing the results you are working so hard to achieve.

To start, I am assuming you are working closely you’re your doctor, and that he/she is aware of what’s going on with you. If not, I encourage you to reach out to review your self-care routine and your regimen, and see if in needs to be tweaked in any way.

Now, I have a few suggestions for you on how to stay more upbeat. Be careful about catastrophic thinking. It’s only human nature to assume the worst when our hard work doesn’t seem to be getting results. How about focusing on the bigger picture? Think about the progress you have made in weight loss and improving your diet. Yes, you aren’t where you want to be in controlling your blood sugar. But chances are, you are doing a whole lot better than you would be if you weren’t managing your regimen so well. So maybe it’s time to look at your progress from a different perspective.

Also, take a look at the dialogue going on in your mind. What is your self-talk like? You said that you feel like giving up. That sounds like helplessness-hopelessness creeping into your self-talk. I encourage you to change that dialogue. Give yourself credit for your hard work. Remind yourself that it can take some time and patience to get to the optimal regimen. And that you and your doctor are working together as a team. Note to self: Take it one day at a time. And get lots of support. Sit down with a good listener. Talk. Vent. Brainstorm. Don’t go through this alone!

One of my problems is eating when I'm stressed, especially in the mornings. How do I avoid stress eating and channel my stress into something positive?

Wow, what a great question. Of all the quick fixes for stress, eating is pretty high on the list. Food can calm those stress feeling pretty quickly. At least temporarily. The problem is, the foods we are most likely to reach for during those stressful moments is most likely not the food we need to be eating. So while eating can put a band-aid on stress, the consequences aren’t worth it. Especially for a diabetic.

So what do you about that stress if you can’t eat it away? I recommend building some stress reduction into your morning routine. Is there anything you do that helps you to feel more calm?
You might try sitting in a quiet place for a few moments and taking deep breaths, and giving yourself a few words of encouragement, while listening to some soothing music. Maybe try turning the TV off and getting the day started in peace and quiet. Find a technique that works for you.

On the other hand, being active can also reduce stress. If you are at home, get involved in an activity like cleaning, or exercising, or taking a walk. Getting active has a way of getting those stress-busting hormones working.

But a word of caution: If your mornings are packed with more than you can reasonably accomplish, which creates more stress, some time management might be in order, at home and at work. Keep balance.

Talking to a friend, or a co-worker, and getting support, can also help with stress. One of the reasons for morning stress is not looking forward to the day. Think of something you are grateful for and keep that in the front of your mind. Think positive, act positive!