Question: Self-care for those of us with diabetes can mean a lot of work, and can feel like a drag. How can self-care feel like it's a relief, not just one more thing we *have* to do?
Answer: Fortunately, the term ‘self-care’ has been used more regularly in the last few years and is shedding a more positive light on the importance of making a little more time for ourselves. Everyone with diabetes likely knows that the disease management process involves more than just being aware of what you are eating and understanding your blood sugar readings. It also includes getting enough sleep, managing stress levels, and making time to enjoy the things you love to do. While some of these practices may be easier for some than others, all of them are important. With the busy lifestyles most of us lead, making each of these things a priority can seem like another full-time job. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help make it seem less like “work” and more like a “reward”.
Ways to make practicing diabetes self-care a little easier:
Think about the “why”: If you constantly remind yourself of the reason behind doing a certain task, you may feel more motivated to do it rather than just viewing it as another “to-do” list item. Getting regular exercise will not only improve your blood sugar levels, but it will also give you more energy to spend with your family. Focus on this.
Start with 5-10 minutes each day: Research shows that carving out this time will actually make you more healthy and productive than if you were to ignore these self-care tasks because you are “too busy” or “too tired”. The time is worth it!
Verbalize your needs and wants: Sit down for a few minutes write down the areas where you want to practice more self-care. Then share these goals with at least one other person. This will provide accountability and a gentle reminder that you are not alone.
Be kind to yourself: Don’t be so hard on yourself if you aren’t able to practice self-care 100% of the time. Allowing yourself to accept yourself - shortcomings and all - is also a part of self-care. Acknowledge you are worth the extra effort self-care takes and love yourself all the way down the imperfect path to get there. :)
Making even one small change at a time can reap big rewards, so think about one area you can re-prioritize and build upon it from there. Remember, carving out time to practice good self-care is rarely seen as selfish and is instead viewed as an admirable trait by many. Once these things become a habit, you will reap the rewards for many years to come. And that’s a relief!