Diabetes burnout is partially what you probably think it is—a tired or frustrated feeling, coupled with the desire to stop properly treating your diabetes. However, it’s important to remember that people who have diabetes burnout are not simply neglectful. They’re not just lazy or careless. They’re sincerely frustrated and exhausted by the neediness of diabetes. They may feel alone as the rest of the world goes on doing all the things proper diabetes care prohibits. They may feel overwhelmed or controlled by their condition. And these strong feelings sometimes make caring for themselves properly on a regular basis nearly unbearable.
Most people who experience diabetes burnout never actually start neglecting or abandoning their treatment; they just find themselves wishing they didn’t have to deal with it. There is an important distinction here between feeling diabetes burnout and acting on diabetes burnout.
The first thing we want you to know is that diabetes burnout is completely normal and natural. You are absolutely not alone. And while it is not okay to cease your treatment plan because of burnout, desiring a break from it is perfectly fine. You should not feel guilty for wishing diabetes was easier to handle or that it didn’t affect your life as much.
If you are experiencing diabetes burnout, there are several ways to handle it without neglecting your health. Here are just a few things you can do to combat diabetes burnout.
3. Stop seeking perfection.
You need to treat your body well, but you also need to be aware that you are not perfect, and neither is your body. It is okay for your blood glucose level to be slightly out of your target range now and then. It is okay to take a little break once a week and eat the things you enjoy, even if they aren’t part of your normal diet. Stop expecting “perfect” all the time and learn to settle for “good” once in a while.
2. Find support.
Seek and ye shall find. If you don’t have much support from your friends and family, there are plenty of support groups, both in-person and online, for people with all types of diabetes. Finding a supportive group of people to be there for you doesn’t mean you’re going to immediately not feel burnt out anymore; it just means you’re acknowledging the problem and getting some help to stay motivated and on track. Give the people in your support group some specific examples of ways they can be helpful to you, such as choosing healthier options when you go out together.
1. Reduce your stress level.
Stress can affect your blood glucose levels—and out-of-range numbers can cause your stress levels to increase, as well. It’s a vicious cycle, but you can escape it. Remember to take some time for yourself occasionally. Nurture and pamper yourself—mind, body, and spirit. Do the things you find most pleasurable and relaxing. Try to slow down your life in any way you can and focus on what makes you happy.
Give yourself time to heal from diabetes burnout and know that the process may come with ups and downs. But if a significant amount of time has passed and nothing seems to be working, be sure to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and what you can do to make your diabetes management more manageable. Even the smallest steps may have a huge impact on the way you feel.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?