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6 Tips for Overcoming Diabetes Burnout

By Ginger Vieira

Diabetes isn’t easy, and having to prick your finger day in and day out to check your blood sugar can be grating. Even though this task takes up about a combined 120 seconds of our day, it’s a tedious responsibility that comes with “good” or “bad” news depending on whatever our blood sugar is. After a while, who could blame you for being sick of it, for forgetting to do it, or for wanting to forget you have diabetes altogether?

This kind of diabetes burnout might mean that you aren't checking your blood sugar as often as you should (or at all). But don't give up yet! Here are some tips to help you overcome diabetes burnout and get back on track with checking your blood sugar.

1) Ease up on the pressure to be perfect.If you're barely checking your blood sugar once a day, intentionally letting go of some of the pressure to test four times a day might help you recharge and overcome your burnout. Create a purposeful, thoughtful goal statement to ease yourself back into blood sugar checking. For example: I will check my blood sugar before breakfast and dinner, every day, for two weeks. You might be looking at that statement and thinking, “But that’s way less than what I’m really supposed to do.” But if expecting 100% perfection leads you to checking your blood sugar almost never, then creating an expectation that you can meet successfully will help you get back in the groove of checking more often down the road.

2) Pick one part of the day that is really consistent in your life—like brushing your teeth before bed—and create a mental habit of always checking your blood sugar at that time. For me, I always take my dogs for a walk in the woods every morning; the first thing I do before that walk is check my fasting blood sugar.

3) Keep your meter in the same place whenever you’re at home or at work.For instance, create a space on your desk (yes, right on top) where your meter will live when you’re at work. At home, pick a space on the kitchen counter or the coffee table where your meter will always live. This way, it’s in a visible area that you’ll pass by many times a day.

4) Use all that technology!If you have a smartphone, use it to help you. The best diabetes app by far is “mySugr” but there are many others. At the very least, schedule your phone to alert you at a certain time of day to check your blood sugar. Almost all cell phones have this capability, not just smartphones.

5) Ask for help. See if someone you live with, or someone you see almost every day, would be willing to ask you once a day, “Have you checked your blood sugar recently?” If that phrase sounds annoying, think of a clever way that they could remind you about checking your blood sugar that would feel supportive instead.

6) Think of your meter like it’s your newborn baby.You need that meter in order to ensure your safety. Just like you would never leave a newborn home alone, make it a priority to bring it with you everywhere—even if you don’t use it every time you’re out and about. This can help develop your overall awareness of checking your blood sugar more often.

Even though checking blood sugar doesn't take much time, it is a big deal in many ways, and you have every right to hate doing it. The reality is that it’s part of our life, but we don't have to let it burn us out.

Ginger Vieira is the author of Dealing with Diabetes Burnout: How to Recharge and Get Back on Track When You Feel Frustrated and Overwhelmed Living with Diabetes. This article has been adapted from the book. Vieira has lived with Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease since 1999. Today, she is an avid freelance writer and motivational speaker with a background as a certified cognitive coach, personal trainer, and Ashtanga yoga instructor specializing in coaching people with diabetes. She creates diabetes video blogs at her YouTube Channel and produces regular freelance content for various diabetes websites including DiabetesDaily.com and ASweetLife.org. In 2009 and 2010, Ginger set 15 records in drug-tested powerlifting with her best lifts including a 308 lb deadlift, 190 lb. bench press, and a 265 lb. squat. She writes articles and blog pots for DemosHealth.com where this article originally appeared.