Don’t let the news of your type 2 diabetes diagnosis throw you for a loop. Here’s how to manage with your emotions and take control of your condition.
If you just learned you have type 2 diabetes, you’re probably upset, confused and fearful, thanks in no small part to all those unanswered questions swimming in your head: Will I ever be able to eat the foods I love? How can I possibly give myself an insulin shot? You may be stressed about the effects of uncontrolled diabetes, scared of long-term complications and even feel guilty—like you caused it.
As you come to terms with your diabetes diagnosis, it’s normal to experience the gamut of emotions: depression, stress, anxiety, denial, anger, shame and even grief. The trick is to figure out how to prevent your feelings from interfering with proper care.
Follow these steps to help stay upbeat in the face of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis:
Become an expert. A lot of the fear and anxiety over a type 2 diabetes diagnosis comes from not understanding the condition. True, there is no cure, yet you can control your condition through treatment and lifestyle changes. Studies suggest that many people with type 2 diabetes can drop their blood sugar numbers back to a normal range just by exercising and modifying their diets. Talk to your healthcare provider, read up and equip yourself with the know-how to best manage your diabetes. A certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian can also provide practical guidance.
Learn to relax. Meditation, yoga and massage can help reduce stress and get your mind off the diagnosis. Besides easing anxiety, some studies suggest that massage at insulin injection points can help promote insulin absorption, contributing to lower blood sugar levels. It can also help relieve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. Consult your healthcare team before booking a massage.
Take action—any action. Throw out the junk food from just one shelf in your pantry. Print out some healthy diabetes-friendly recipes (you’ll find some on this site!). Do jumping jacks during one commercial break. Plan tomorrow’s lunch. Read more articles about diabetes. Taking just one positive step in the right direction will give you a sense of control.
Watch for signs of depression. People with diabetes are 50% more likely to become depressed than those without the condition. Unfortunately, depression makes it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels, so it’s important to get treatment. If you’re experiencing feelings of sadness and helplessness and are having difficulty concentrating, sleeping or eating, talk to your healthcare provider.
Guarantee a good night’s sleep. With your mind in overdrive and anxiety levels at an all-time high, falling asleep may be challenging after your diabetes diagnosis. But poor sleep can put you at risk of overeating. After a night of disrupted sleep, the part of the brain that increases your appetite becomes more active, making it tough to fight those carb cravings the next day. Before bed, whip up a bowl of oatmeal—it contains the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin and will help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the night.
Seek out support. Who could better understand the daily annoyances like counting carbs and checking blood sugar than others living with diabetes? Ask your healthcare provider to recommend a support group in your area or do a quick Google search to find an online community or diabetes-specific Facebook page.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. In the beginning, it’s easy to slip up with diet or exercise—especially if you’re trying to tackle every lifestyle change under the sun all at once. With the help of your endocrinologist and diabetes educator, come up with a plan that feels doable. If you have a setback, pat yourself on the back and move on. Over time, the little changes will take hold and add up to a healthier you.