Tips on embracing the imperfections of diabetes management
Am I Doing Enough? Tips on embracing the imperfections of diabetes management
How often do you ask yourself, “Am I doing enough”? Regardless of whether you are a caretaker of someone with diabetes, or you have diabetes yourself, when are you doing enough?
Diabetes has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember. My dad was diagnosed when I was young. I reflect back being a child wondering if I was doing enough to help him. I didn’t really understand what diabetes was nor how to manage it. I often found myself wondering if I was supportive enough or helping enough.
As I have gotten older and have a family of my own, I have found myself as a parent of 2 children with diabetes. This has given me the opportunity to more fully immerse myself in the diabetes world. In doing so, I have found one thing many have in common……the underlying thought of self-doubt.
I have put together some tips to help you feel confident in yourself and your abilities to meet the challenges of diabetes.
Learn as much as you can and stay up to date on the latest information regarding diabetes. There is power in knowledge. Understand the “why” of what you learn so it will have meaning. For example, “Why does exercise lower blood glucose”? “Why did the doctor prescribe this medication”? Get your information from a reliable source such as your healthcare provider, diabetes educator, or a trusted website. Be cautious of false information or unreliable sources such as blogs and social media groups that share opinions.
Make a decision and be at peace with it. If you are involved at all with diabetes, you know the number of decisions that need to be made on a regular basis such as; How many carbs?Am I going low?Am I going high? Did I just exercise? How much do I want to eat? Do I need a correction?Do your best and then make adjustments as needed. Don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t go perfectly, because it may not. Don’t feel guilty if you are the parent who is trying to do the right thing for your child. Always find yourself doing your best and being proud of all that you do.
Do not compare
Each diabetes journey is unique and cannot be compared with another. Don’t base facts off what you see on social media and don’t assume everyone else has it “all figured out” except you. If you are seeing someone who appears to have perfect management, you are not seeing the whole picture. Everyone has ups and downs. Take your personal wins and celebrate them without a second thought about what someone else might think or do.
Look for the good
Enjoy those moments when you really “nail it” and celebrate the smallest successes. Take time to share these moments with a trusted friend or family member.Always look for new ways to make diabetes management easier for you.Reframe your thinking to include positive thoughts and emotions. Rather than saying to yourself: “Wow, I really did that wrong”, change it to: “That did not go as I thought it would but I will work with it and make my best effort again next time”. Give yourself credit for doing your best and a little slack when things don’t go exactly as you had wished for.
Control what you can
When it comes to diabetes, there are certain things we just cannot control. Spend your effort on the things you can control such as carrying quick carbs to treat lows, using apps to help count carbs more accurately and keep up on filling prescriptions so you don’t run low on supplies. Taking ownership of diabetes is empowering and making decisions that improve management is rewarding. Control the things you can and avoid dwelling on the things you can’t.
Find yourself in good company
Spend time with those who lift and support you. Develop healthy friendships with positive people who make you feel included and free from any judgment. Explain YOUR diabetes to friends and family and tell them ways they can help you. The ones who love and care about you will want to be on your diabetes team. The more they know, the more they can provide the support you need. In return, look for ways to support others with diabetes. Volunteer for your local diabetes organizations such as ADA or JDRF. Participate in fundraising walks or help out at diabetes camps.
Be happy with imperfect
Diabetes is not a perfect disease so don’t expect perfection. There will be high blood sugars, low blood sugars, time out of range, and many other obstacles due to no fault of your own. Find ways to unwind and decompress by doing things such as going outside, calling a friend, or trying some deep breathing techniques. Do the best you can and then tell yourself you are “doing enough”.
SaRene Brooks is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist whose focus is lifestyle intervention. She earned a bachelor of science degree in dietetics from Utah State University.
SaRene’s professional experience includes receiving accreditation for and directing a complete Diabetes Self-Management Education program. She also spent many years leading a lifestyle change program for weight management and chronic disease prevention. She thrives on providing the kind of care and education that empowers people to reach their personal health goals.