Taking care of yourself with diabetes is indeed a “mental game,” requiring you to learn to function comfortably on a number of levels:
- Personal (Emotional)—fighting off negative thoughts
- Social—interacting with others in social situations without stress
- Behavioral—preventing yourself from doing things you wish you wouldn’t, sometimes even self-destructive things
The first place to start is in your very own head. How do you think about your diabetes every day? Do you tell yourself “it’s just too hard” or beat yourself up whenever your BG levels rise or you eat something you wish you wouldn’t have? As trivial as it might sound, one of the most important things you can do is to examine your own “internal dialogue” and try to change a negative tone to a more optimistic one. What do I mean by “optimistic”? It’s not all about flowers and bunnies, but rather about taking a “can-do” approach.
Doctors continuously note that the patients who do best with diabetes are the “optimistic” ones — not because they are by nature “happy,” but because optimism is really a problem-solving approach. When a bad thing happens to an optimistic person, that person feels empowered to do something about it. Pessimists, on the other hand, do not feel empowered, and compound the problem by telling themselves: “this will always happen to me.” Instead, try telling yourself “I did pretty good today!”
If you do have a high glucose number you’re unhappy about, or a bad food day, try to think in terms of “lessons learned”: How you can use the information from this event to avoid the same mistake going forward?
(NOTE: Serious stress and depression can definitely interfere with caring for your diabetes. Read Tip #2 in this section about how to gauge your level of distress.)