Finding the Right Type of Support

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Finding the Right Type of Support

Deb GreenwoodContributor: Deborah Greenwood, PhD, RN, BC-ADM, CDCES, FADCES
In partnership with

Diabetes is complex and challenging, requiring attention throughout every single day. It is also largely self-managed, making ongoing support so critical. People with a strong support system tend to be healthier and quicker to recover when sick.

Asking for and accepting help and support is a sign of strength. While people may need different types of support, there is usually something for everyone. Selecting the resources or activities that suit you the best is essential.

Here are five wonderful examples of suppport you can try:

  1. Check-in with loved ones often. Living with a chronic condition can make you feel socially isolated, especially if you live alone. You can connect via video chat, text messages, email, social media, letters or cards, or a good “old-fashioned” phone call. It may help to share specific ways loved ones can support you. (For example, say, “Do join me in making healthy lifestyle changes, but please don’t offer unsolicited advice about my eating.”)
  2. Reach out to your diabetes healthcare team. Call on them if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. They are dedicated to helping you take an active role in caring for your diabetes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare providers are using telehealth, so you often don’t have to leave your home to get needed help.
  3. Support yourself by taking care of your emotional health. Everyone deals with stress, but coping with it healthily leads to better emotional health. Think about what relieves your stress and try to incorporate it into your day. You might try to move your body more or take a short break from work. You can also use positive affirmations to focus on the fact that “you can do this.” Finding time to sleep is also critical to health, and more is being discovered about the sleep and health connection daily.
  4. Learn about available free resources. Many resources are available to support stress management and coping, and some are free! There are free versions of mindfulness apps for your phone to help with meditation or sleep. YouTube has many self-help videos, and some just to make you smile and laugh.
  5. Connect with others with diabetes for peer support. Connecting with the vibrant diabetes online community (DOC) is an opportunity to learn from others facing similar issues. It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can connect whenever it is convenient for you to engage. Other avenues to gain peer support are through a support group or a diabetes program or workshop. The American Diabetes Association, Beyond Type 1, and Beyond Type 2 have collaborated on an online discussion board that allows people with diabetes to share their ideas, questions, and opinions on various topics. These settings provide great opportunities to discuss common problems and concerns, share helpful advice, offer support, and celebrate success in diabetes self-care. The Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists website has many resources about online peer support, and a handout you can download.

If you are interested in meditation and mindfulness, here are four free apps to check out. The free versions give a taste of the app and its approach, with the option to move on to the premium version with expanded content options if desired.

  1. Smiling mind: (Available for iOS and Google Play) This app not only provides an opportunity to take a break from life stresses through meditation, but it also guides in incorporating mindfulness practice throughout the day through activities such as journaling or audio prompts. It brings attention to your senses by counting things that can be seen, felt, heard, smelled, and tasted. Pretty cool! There are also several programs related to stress management and sleep.
  2. UCLA Mindful: (Available for iOS and Android) The name says it all. Heavily grounded in the science of mindfulness, this app, developed by the Mindful Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), features a variety of meditations in English and Spanish. Sessions range from as short as 3 minutes to up to a half-hour long, which they refer to as podcasts. This app can help you practice self-kindness, work through challenging emotions, and focus on other areas.
  3. Insight Timer: (Available for iOS, Android, and web) This app offers over 90,000 free guided meditations. Topics covered include anxiety, stress, sleep, mindfulness, relationships, insightful talks, and much more. There is a feature where you can set a timer and focus or meditate to calming ambient noise or music. (Premium paid version also available)
  4. Calm: (Available for iOS, Android, and web) Calm includes meditation and sleep stories focused on improving sleep quality, reducing stress and anxiety, improving focus, and overall self-improvement. The sleep stories are not engaging and exciting, but that’s the purpose. The goal is not to have your brain try to engage but to relax and prepare to sleep. Creating opportunities to calm your mind and support a peaceful bedtime or a stress-free break in the middle of the workday is very important.

This week ask yourself these questions around support to identify what kinds support you may need:

  1. What types of support could help me now?
  2. Where will I get it?
  3. When will I take the step to see this support?
  4. On a scale of 0-10, where 0 means not likely and 10 means very likely, how likely am I to engage in a support resource to help me?

Deborah Greenwood is a diabetes care and education specialist, nurse and researcher. She is a Senior Manager on the Clinical Education team at Dexcom. She is a co-founder of A Fresh POV for You, a blog to guide healthcare professionals in a solution-focused approach to practice. Deborah is an Adjunct, Assistant Professor at University of Texas Health, San Antonio, School of Nursing. Deborah was the 2015 President of AADE (now the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists). She is the Chair of the board of directors for DiabetesSisters.