We’ve all been there at one point or another: whether it’s a sudden or gradual process, we are just not where we want to be when it comes to our diabetes management. For those who live with a demanding and chronic health condition, managing it can be thought of as a form of self-care. The truth is, when we do our absolute best to manage our blood sugar levels, this is likely to make us feel better physically and emotionally, while also reducing the risk of various health complications.
What do you do when you feel that your diabetes care is suffering, and you are stuck in a less than desirable pattern? Here, we share some tips, as well as notable quotes from members of the diabetes online community.
Tips to Getting Back on Track
When you realize that you are not where you want to be as far as your diabetes management, take a step back, a deep breath, and consider the following steps:
Admit and Accept
You are not where you want to be right now. That’s OK. Be honest with where you currently are but remind yourself that you are worthy of self-care (including optimal diabetes management). Accept yourself where you are, while also acknowledging that you wish for things to be better.
See the Goal
What do you want to change, exactly? Are you shooting for a specific A1c or time-in-range goal? Do you want to check your blood sugar more frequently? Are you looking to change your diet to better manage your blood sugar? Is it time to dig out your CGM and/or do some basal testing? Are you planning to start an exercise routine? How many times a week and what exactly will you do? Be very specific about what you wish to accomplish (no matter how big or how small).
Make a Plan
Now that you have identified your goals, it’s time to make an action plan. This means being specific about what your intentions are and knowing exactly which steps you will take to get there. For example, you may want to set alarms to remember to check your blood sugar. You may want to designate a specific day to check if your basal insulin dose is set correctly. You may want to carve out an hour every weekend to meal plan for the week and make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success by having all the right foods on hand. Whatever it is that you plan to do, write it down.
Regroup and Recharge
Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed or you feel that you have tried and failed too many times? That’s OK, too. Consider regrouping by focusing on achieving an unrelated task that will bolster your mood and confidence. Whether it’s a gardening project that you’ve been putting off, cleaning the bathroom, or clearing out your inbox, accomplishing any task that needs to be done can help you recharge your mental focus, making it easier to eventually return to the more challenging stuff.
You’ve identified your goals and made an action plan. Now, it’s time to take action! Consider rewarding yourself when you’ve hit a specific goal, big or small, and also give yourself grace if your progress doesn’t always look like you have imagined. There is a saying, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” While it’s important to acknowledge where improvement is needed and strive for it, it is perhaps equally important to acknowledge progress.
Finally, consider the following chart. Think about what boxes you have checked and where you might need improvement.
And, always remember you are not alone in this! Talking to your family, friends, and members of the diabetes online community can be invaluable to helping you get back on track.
Here are some other thoughts to ponder, from members of the diabetes online community:
“They say take it one day at a time but really all you have are a series of nows. Can you ask yourself, in this moment, am I doing the best I can to care for my needs? You might be surprised how much more often you actually say yes than no. In my experience, acknowledging self-care helps build positive momentum towards your overall outlook.”
“Focus on gratitude. So much to be grateful for. Just start a gratitude journal and write down one thing every day you’re grateful for!”
“In 37 years as a T1diabetic I’ve hit a few ruts. When I recognize I’m in one…and maybe my control or attention to my diabetes is slipping…I mix things up!
Ditch walking daily for a bike ride, or just find a new walking trail. I dig through cookbooks and find a few new recipes to try. Visit a new grocery store, or just one in a new part of town, to search for a new ingredient. Send a social media friend request to someone you know is T1D and reach out! Crazy as it sounds…simple works too!! I change colors on my SugarMate app, replace my lancet and clean out my glucometer’s case.
And don’t be afraid to reward yourself! I can refresh my attitude and reward myself with a pedicure. I can bust through a mental block and treat myself to a car detail. Or I can accomplish a small rut-busting goal and splurge on a new bottle of wine!”
“I like to just embrace the rut. Yeah, I feel like poop mentally, so what. Let me lay around more than I usually do or whatever thing I feel like doing. Then, either talk about what’s happening with someone (I find this the easiest way to process it) then move on once it’s “over.”
I used to try to fix everything all the time. Now I just try to recognize I’m feeling a certain way for a reason, and let it happen instead of insisting that I change it. (Which is what I used to to all the time and [shocker] it never helped.)”
“I like to go back to basics. This usually means committing to fasting the next day to do a thorough basal test, or buying groceries to make a delicious but consistent meal for the next few days. This usually gives me a “win” within a day or two that can motivate me out of my rut!”
“For me it’s about taking back control. I got tired of all different groups of people telling me what I have to do in order to have good control. For example–a couple years ago I was told I need to wear a pump to have good control. When I found a way that worked for me-low carb and cgm–I finally felt that I could control how I approach diabetes and still have same (or better) results. Makes me feel empowered. When I get in a rut I just remember that ultimately I am in control and try to make little tweaks.
And wine, too.”
What are your tips to getting back on track when you feel stuck in a diabetes rut? Please comment below, we love hearing from our readers.