Written by Xavier Toledo, MS and Reviewed by Amy Brownstein, MS, RD
If you're living with type 2 diabetes, you might often feel frustrated, upset, or stressed. This kind of emotional struggle, called “diabetes distress,” is common. In fact, upwards of 50% of people with diabetes feel this way. It's tough dealing with diabetes on a daily basis and worrying about potential health complications. That's why self-care is so important when you have diabetes. Self-care can make you feel better and help you manage your diabetes more effectively.
In this blog post, we'll discuss different ways to care for your physical and mental health if you have type 2 diabetes. We'll look at the benefits of having supportive friends, being active, dealing with stress, getting enough sleep, and more.
Increase Your Physical Activity
Exercise is vital when managing type 2 diabetes, and it's about much more than controlling blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that regular exercise can lead to mood enhancement, better sleep patterns, and a reduction in symptoms of depression. These outcomes contribute to a heightened sense of well-being and an overall improved quality of life for those with type 2 diabetes.
When we talk about getting active, we don't mean you need to start training for a marathon or become a “gym rat.” Regular physical activity can be as simple as walking briskly around your neighborhood, dancing to your favorite songs, or gardening. The goal is to choose activities you love, so you'll look forward to them and make them part of your routine. Incorporating quick walks after meals is a great start. These walks help lower blood sugar levels after eating and allow you to take a little break from your day.
For more information on the benefits of exercise for those with type 2 diabetes, check out our blog post titled “How Can Exercise Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels?.”
Incorporate Stress-Reducing Techniques
Chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on blood sugar levels. As such, stress-reducing techniques such as meditation or yoga can be beneficial. Starting with just five minutes a day can make a difference and can be gradually increased as you feel comfortable.
Yoga is a two-for-one deal, providing both physical movement and stress relief. Many people find yoga helps them feel more centered and ready to tackle the day's challenges. It's also an easy way to add physical activity to your routine. Furthermore, research has shown that yoga can even favor blood sugar management in people with type 2 diabetes.
The goal isn't to eliminate stress but instead to develop coping strategies. As you incorporate these techniques into your routine, you'll likely notice a positive impact on your mood, sleep, and blood sugar levels.
Tap into the Power of Community
Finding your community can be a game-changer when living with type 2 diabetes. You're not alone in this journey; joining a diabetes group or finding a community of people who understand what you're going through can be incredibly helpful. These groups offer a safe place to share your experiences, fears, and triumphs with people who genuinely understand.
Being a part of a community provides emotional support, which is essential when dealing with a chronic illness like diabetes. It's a space where you can express your feelings without judgment, get advice from people in your shoes, and find comfort in the fact that you're not alone.
But the benefits of finding a community go beyond emotional support. When you're part of a group, it's easier to stay accountable and motivated to manage your diabetes. You can set group goals, keep each other on track, and celebrate progress together. Seeing others successfully manage their diabetes can be inspiring and motivate you to take better care of your health. So, finding your community isn't just about making friends—it's a powerful tool to help you manage your diabetes more effectively.
Here at Reversing T2D, we offer programs that have helped members reverse their type 2 diabetes in as little as ten weeks.In addition to the other benefits, program members receive access to our private online community to connect with others going through similar experiences. Find out which of our programs is best for you by clicking here.
Adopt a Healthy Sleep Pattern
Getting enough rest is often overlooked, but it's essential to managing type 2 diabetes. Sleep has a direct impact on our blood glucose levels. When well-rested, our bodies function better, which includes processing glucose more effectively. On the other hand, when we are sleep deprived, our bodies can struggle to keep blood sugar levels in check.
Inadequate sleep can disrupt essential hormones in our body that play a crucial role in regulating glucose metabolism and our feelings of hunger and fullness. For example, lack of sleep can increase ghrelin levels (the hormone that signals hunger) and reduce leptin levels (the hormone that tells us when we're full). This hormonal imbalance can lead to overeating, weight gain, and higher blood sugar levels.
Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep every night is an excellent goal. Establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and adopting a calming bedtime routine can all help achieve this. You'll not only notice the difference in how you feel during the day, but you'll also likely see improvements in your blood sugar levels. Remember, every step you take toward better sleep is a step toward better diabetes management.
For more information on the benefits of sleep for those with type 2 diabetes, check out our blog post titled “The Importance of Sleep for Those With Type 2 Diabetes.”
Establish a Multidisciplinary Healthcare Team
When managing type 2 diabetes, having a well-rounded team of healthcare professionals can make all the difference. Each member contributes unique expertise, making your diabetes management more holistic and personalized. This team could include several specialists based on your needs.
Primary Care Physician
Your primary care physician is the person who helps coordinate your care. They keep an eye on your overall health and help you with the day-to-day management of your diabetes.
An endocrinologist specializes in endocrine system disorders, including diabetes, and can offer more specific insights and treatments.
A registered dietitian can guide you in making healthier food choices that suit your tastes and lifestyle while helping manage your blood sugar levels.
Physical activity plays a crucial role in diabetes management. This is where a fitness trainer comes in. They can create a customized exercise program that considers your physical condition, preferences, and goals.
Meanwhile, a psychologist can provide strategies to cope with stress, manage diabetes distress, and support your overall mental well-being.
Including various professionals in your healthcare team can improve blood sugar control and overall quality of life. With their combined knowledge and experience, a multidisciplinary healthcare team can help you navigate the ups and downs of life with diabetes and empower you to take charge of your health.
If assembling a comprehensive team isn’t within your means, take advantage of our resources! Our team comprises an endocrinologist, registered dietitians, and an exercise physiologist. We offer many resources on our social media, blog, and programs.
Diabetic distress can have a profoundly negative impact on your overall health. That's why embracing self-care strategies—like managing stress, exercising regularly, and prioritizing sleep—is crucial. It's also vital to recognize the power of community and professional help. Whether it's sharing experiences with a community of individuals who understand your journey, seeking advice from a team of healthcare professionals, or utilizing the helpful resources we offer at Reversing T2D, support is readily available.
If you're ready to take charge of your diabetes management and are interested in joining one of our programs, you can find out which one is the best fit for you here.