Mental health is as important as physical health, especially for those living with a chronic illness. With the constant stress of work, life, relationships, and the world at large, it can be easy to forget ourselves and challenging to set aside time to care for our own mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, such ongoing struggles can present additional challenges for those managing a chronic illness or condition, including diabetes. When struggling with diabetic mental health, It may seem like your life has been turned upside down.
So, what can you do for yourself? How do you continue to treat diabetes while also nurturing your mental health? Let’s take a look at some practical ways in which you can adapt and adjust to your situation.
Take Time to Learn
As the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” This is the first and most important step toward living without fear and anxiety. It’s easy to get caught up in all the unknowns and allow yourself to get dragged down. What’s important to remember is that you are not alone in this journey.
Many people have gone before you, and there’s plenty of research out there for you to sift through. Your doctor should be your primary source of information. But in the Digital Age, the internet can be a great resource for finding and learning new things. Take some time to browse the web for reliable sources on diabetes, and learn from people who are familiar with your condition, its necessities, and its limitations.
Be Kind to Yourself
It’s vital, for both your physical and mental health, to be kind to yourself. That means getting enough sleep at night, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of fresh air when possible. That also means going easy on yourself. Guilt, sadness, anxiety, and general disinterest in life may come after a diagnosis. It may be hard to stand your ground, but understand that you are human and everyone has bad days. If these feelings persist, then you may be exhibiting signs of depression. Depression is a serious medical condition that should be discussed with a doctor as soon as possible.
Introspection & Meditation
Take time to reflect on yourself and what you’re feeling. You can’t always control your emotions, but they can be an important indicator of your mental health. Many people find it helpful to sit and record exactly what’s going on in their mind.
Whether writing with pen and paper or typing on a laptop computer, this exercise will help you to articulate and organize the chaos that can overwhelm your ability to see your circumstances with clarity and objectivity. If you would rather not write, you could also try playing an instrument, painting, or meditating. Do anything that will help you get in touch with your inner self.
Surrounding yourself with friends and family can make even the worst days more bearable. Get connected with people who will understand and sympathize with what you’re going through. Maybe you could join a support group for people who have similar chronic conditions. Whatever you do, avoid isolation at all costs, as that will only harm your mental health in the long run.
Ask for Help
It can be difficult to do things alone, and there’s no shame in asking for help. Sometimes it’s beyond your control, but there are people who are ready and willing to help you. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-known and highly researched form of psychotherapy that can improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and chronic illnesses. Working with a licensed therapist and setting ongoing therapy goals can help you commit to personal growth and development.
There’s Always Hope
It may be difficult, but don’t take your eyes off the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, take care of yourself, make an effort to stay connected, and reach out for help if you need it. Your diabetic mental health is worth protecting!
Aaron Smith is an LA-based content strategist and consultant in support of STEM firms and medical practices. He covers industry developments and helps companies connect with clients. In his free time, Aaron enjoys swimming, swing dancing, and sci-fi novels.