Those that live with diabetes, either themselves or have a loved one with the condition, know why worry can go hand in hand with having diabetes. Managing diabetes is something that seems to be on our minds all the time, even when not in the forefront of our thoughts. There are so many factors that can affect blood glucose levels that, even when you seem to have everything under control, levels can change quickly and drastically. And these ups and downs are not inconsequential—they interact with every area of our lives and sometimes in quite detrimental ways. This combination of unpredictability and the potential severity of consequences lays a ripe breeding ground for worries to grow.
Many times peoples’ worries related to diabetes tend to develop either around difficult past events or on uncertain futures. You might fear hypoglycemia, because you or someone you know had a severe low in the past and you do not want to repeat anything close to that experience. You might have anxiety related to having high blood glucose levels, because you remember going into diabetes ketoacidosis when you were first diagnosed. Or, you might fear high blood glucose, because you worry about developing complications in the future. You might stress about change, because it is uncertain how you or a loved one will care for diabetes (ex. transitioning to adult care from pediatric care, going away for school, or travelling).
All of these fears are normal, rational, and valid, but that doesn’t make them easy. If you find that they are getting to the point that they are interfering with how you take care of yourself and your diabetes, you might want to start looking at some resources to help you deal with them:
Check in with your body.
Our reactions to our surroundings might be processed by our brains, but they start off in the body. When you find yourself starting to feel anxious, you might want to try to take note of what is going on in your body. Maybe you notice you start feeling cold or warm? Maybe your heart rate starts to rise? Maybe you get a bad feeling in your gut? Maybe you get a burst of energy or maybe you suddenly feel tired? If you do this sort of check-in regularly, you will start to notice that these bodily sensations actually start before you process feelings of anxiety. At that point, you have a bit more of an opportunity to engage in strategies to prevent or de-escalate the anxiety before it intensifies.
Keeping in the present.
Focusing on the breath through meditation and yoga practices can help keep you more connected to the present throughout your day, and this can help lessen your worries tied to past experiences or future unknowns. This does not need to be a long practice—even doing a short 10 minutes breathing meditation a day can be enough to make a difference. If meditation doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, learning and regularly practicing some relaxation or grounding techniques will also be beneficial.
Meet others living with diabetes.
When you live in a world where no one shares your day-to-day experiences (i.e., don’t have diabetes or don’t deal with it regularly), it can be easy to start to frame your struggles with diabetes as problematic. Talking to others about how they deal with the reality of living with diabetes and its treatments can help you normalize some of the fears you have related to diabetes.
Talk to a mental health professional.
There is a point at which worry and anxiety can become an all-consuming and overwhelming state. If you are finding that your anxiety is taking up so much of your time and thoughts that it is getting difficult to do other things in life, take care of yourself, and/or connect with others, it might be time to reach out to a mental health professional.
You can learn more about anxiety and grounding exercises when you click on the link below.