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Avoid Diabetes Burnout

Once you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and even though you have  a treatment plan, the disease doesn’t fade into the background. Good diabetes care requires constant attention to good nutrition, physical activity, medications – and how they each affect blood glucose (sugar) levels.

All of the effort required of people with diabetes can sometimes lead to "diabetes burnout"—a state in which patients grow tired of managing their disease and then simply ignore  it for a period of time, or worse, forever. "Diabetes burnout" is not the same thing as depression, instead it is something that takes place when a person is either unwilling to change, or simply tired of the endless attention diabetes care requires.

While ignoring your diabetes can seriously harm your health and increase your risk of complications, it is understandable that a person with diabetes would experience these feelings. Fortunately, there are strategies for alleviating the stress of managing your diabetes, and avoiding diabetes burnout.

Stay motivated, not ”perfect”. Many people with diabetes feel like they should always have blood glucose readings in their target range, and become frustrated when, despite their best efforts, they don’t reach their goals. However, this doesn’t have to be a source of stress if you accept the fact that good diabetes care doesn’t mean being ”perfect”. If you forgive yourself for the occasional glucose fluctuation, you’ll be relieved of the stress associated with trying to achieve perfection, and you’ll likely reap more rewards for this kind of approach in the long-term.

Identify barriers to good diabetes care. Are there certain obstacles in your life that are preventing you from taking the best possible care of yourself? If so, make a list of those things and actively engage in solving these problems one by one. For example, if you have a tough time making it to the gym to exercise, consider buying a treadmill for your home. What you would have spent on membership to a gym in a year is probably equivalent to the cost of purchasing equipment for your home. This approach applies to other aspects of life, too. If keeping the same testing and medication schedule is helpful in maintaining good glucose readings, avoid situations where you’ll be forced to disrupt that schedule.

Get some support. Having diabetes and managing it well shouldn’t be tasks that you keep secret. Family, friends, and coworkers can help you stay motivated by offering support.  Let others know that you plan to do your best to manage your diabetes, and need their help. Then be specific about what you consider to be helpful, such as counting carbohydrates together at a meal, and what you don’t consider helpful, such as being asked constantly if a particular food is the "right" food to be eating.

Keep your eyes on the prize. Tight glucose control is one of the main ways you can reduce the risks of diabetes complications. It may motivate you to manage your diabetes when you consider the kinds of complications that can arise from poor diabetes care, but after a while, those complications may seem like less of a driving force in your life. That’s when it’s time to think concretely — maintaining good diabetes care wards off complications, but it also may make you more agile on the basketball court, increase your productivity at work, or allow you to concentrate more on the activities you love. In order to keep good diabetes care at the forefront of your mind, it’s important to make the benefits of it relevant to your own hobbies and interests.

See your healthcare professional regularly. Staying on track with your diabetes care routine means paying a visit to your  provider as often as is necessary. Your diabetes care team -- the people who look after all the parts of your body impacted by diabetes -- should help you stay motivated and updated on the latest advances in diabetes treatment. Always bring a list of questions to ask your healthcare professional during a visit.

To learn how to give yourself a diabetes tune-up, click here.

Page last updated: November 07, 2019