Looking at Your A1C: Tips for Managing Diabetes
Managing your diabetes can feel like a challenge, even on the best day. During uncertain times, those challenges can begin to feel daunting.
When your body is in a state of stress, it reacts by pushing cortisol into your system. This increases your heart rate, the pace of your breathing and it can increase your blood sugar. The stress hormone cortisol can make it more difficult for your body to stabilize the levels of sugar in your bloodstream. Stress can also interrupt your sleep, which makes your body more susceptible to blood sugar dips and spikes.
Taking steps to reduce stress is extra important for people with diabetes. Developing a routine for your diabetes care is a simple, reliable way to reduce the stress and ensure you’re doing everything you can to protect your health.
Follow these steps to organize your medical care, so that you can do more than just live with diabetes. You can live well.
Monitor your blood sugar regularly. A critical part of the daily routine is checking your blood sugar. Keep track of your blood sugar at regular intervals. This will ease your stress by helping you and your doctor make more informed decisions about your care. It also gives you a chance to become more familiar with which foods, events and activities trigger your blood sugar highs and lows.
Plan your meals. When you must be careful about what you eat, sticking to a daily pattern for meal and snack times takes the guesswork out of your diet. When you know what you’ll eat and when, you eliminate the stress of hunger and having to make a last-minute decision. Plan portions in advance to prevent over-eating. Schedule snacks between meals to avoid mindless snacking.
Stock up on medical supplies. Make sure you have a large supply of all required medications, insulin syringes, injection needles and vials. That will make sticking to your medical care routine a simple and reliable practice. Your pharmacy’s hours may have changed. Some have had interruptions in their supply chains. Your pharmacist may be able to assist you with regular diabetic supply delivery by mail to keep your stock up and your stress down. Equipping yourself with needed medical supplies will save you the mental and physical stress of missing a dose of your medication.
Drink plenty of water. Everyone needs water. Staying hydrated helps us breathe easier, improves our heart health and flushes toxins from our bodies. For people with diabetes, drinking enough water is even more important. Any dehydration throughout your day can affect blood sugar. To make hydration a part of your routine, get into the habit of carrying a reusable water bottle to help you stay mindful of your water intake. Know how many ounces your bottle holds and how many times you’ll need to refill it throughout the day to meet your hydration goal. Bonus: If your bottle has a reusable straw, you’re more likely to keep sipping throughout the day.
Physical activity. If you are staying home more, you may be spending more time sitting. Make daily movement a part of your medical routine. This is especially important when you live with diabetes. When you are physically active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin, allowing it to work better. Regular exercise will also make you feel and sleep better. Make time in your daily medical care schedule for a walk, stretching with yoga or an online exercise video to take the stress out of the pressure to work out.
Keep a sleep schedule. Both the quality and quantity of your sleep are important. Poor sleep can negatively affect your blood sugar, blood pressure, insulin resistance, inflammation levels and overall well-being. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is a great way to regulate your sleep schedule and make sleep a part of your daily medical routine.
Reach out for support. Addressing stress is easier when you discuss it with family members or friends. If you live alone, phone conversations and video chats go a long way in helping reduce stress. Scheduling time each week to reach out to someone you care about will help you manage stress, give you an event to look forward to, keep you accountable to your medical routine, and provide an outlet for any stress you may be feeling, whether related to your diabetes or otherwise.
Managing your diabetes as a part of your everyday life will help you get ahead of your A1C results, while reducing your stress. Follow these steps to live well with diabetes.