Diabetes Self-Management Articles

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Seeing the Big Picture

by Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, and Patti Geil, MS, RD, FADA, CDE

  • Get outside, particularly if it’s sunny out, but even if it’s not. Being out in natural light is a known mood booster, and being active while you’re outside is even better.
  • Pay attention to your environment. Have you chosen colors for your living spaces that cheer you up or bring you down? You’ll feel more cheerful if you surround yourself with colors that feel cheery, not dreary. And don’t forget that the lighting in your home affects the appearance of the colors. Get light bulbs that are bright enough to show off your cheery color selections.
  • Find something to be grateful about every day. It doesn’t have to be something huge, and it doesn’t mean that you have everything you want or need in life, but it can help to remind yourself that there are some things for which you’re grateful.
  • Expect the best. Without becoming Pollyanna, try to expect that you will be able to work out problems and that your interactions with other people will generally be positive and constructive. Taking this attitude can help you to feel less anxious and/or defensive, which can in turn raise the chances that you will get the outcome or response that you want. It can be particularly useful at your diabetes care appointments: Rather than assume that your health-care provider is going to scold you for some slipup in your care, assume that he wants to help you succeed — by identifying the barriers you face and finding ways around them.

Maintain an interest in life
While it’s important to be engaged in caring for your diabetes, it’s equally important to have other interests and activities in your life. In fact, the desire to be able to pursue your other interests may be what motivates you to care for your diabetes. After all, the better you feel physically and mentally, the more likely you are to partake of activities you love, whether it’s attending sports events or playing sports, going to the theater, or doing crafts.

So how do you prioritize your diabetes care so you have time to pursue other things?

Monitoring your blood glucose level on a regular schedule can help you stay on track by alerting you to problems early. If you have a week of unusually high blood glucose numbers, for example, you know that something’s up, and you may need to seek help to find the cause or to make adjustments to your diabetes plan to bring your numbers back down. Making sure you get an A1C test two to four times a year can also help you stay on track. The A1C test gives you a snapshot of your blood glucose control over the past 2–3 months; for most adults with diabetes, the recommended goal for A1C is less than 7%. If your A1C is higher, ask your diabetes care team what actions on your part are necessary for lowering it.

Taking any prescribed diabetes medicines at the right time(s) of day in the right dose(s) will go a long way toward keeping your blood glucose level in target range. Work with your diabetes care team to come up with a medicine schedule that works best for you and your daily schedule. Then use any tools — such as weekly pill boxes or automated reminders — you need to help you remember to take your medicines. Filling your prescriptions on time is important, too, to avoid disruption in your routine. If you need help remembering, many pharmacies and suppliers offer free phone or e-mail reminders to refill or renew your prescriptions.

Having the flu can wreak havoc on your blood glucose control and keep you out of commission for weeks or even months, so be sure to get an annual flu shot. While most insurance plans and Medicare will pay for the flu vaccine, even if you have to pay for it yourself, the flu vaccine is a bargain compared to being away from work and other obligations (as well as the things you enjoy) for days on end or, worse, developing flu complications (such as pneumonia) and having to pay for additional medicines or even a hospital stay.

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