How to Beat Diabetes Burnout

DIABETES CARE|Nov.22, 2018

Heidi Devine is a huge sports fan and self-described positive, happy person who embraces each day as a gift.

But even with Heidi's can-do attitude, the daily diabetes nutrition planning, fingerstick glucose testing, insulin injections, food decisions, worrying about hypoglycemic episodes — everything involved with diabetes care — can eventually take a toll, leading to diabetes burnout.

"For me, it's when you are just tired of dealing with everything, you're in a constant state of planning. It's exhausting and sometimes you just want to be like everyone else," said Heidi, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for over 33 years. "It doesn't matter what age you are, [burnout] happens periodically through your life with the disease. I have absolutely been there."

When you've got a chronic condition such as diabetes, you've got to develop strategies to overcome the burnout. We caught up with Heidi for her best tips.

1. Reach Out to Your Support System

Hospitals and doctors' offices may have designated support groups for people living with diabetes, which can be good resources for people looking for face-to-face interaction and support. Even people who don't have diabetes, such as your friends, family and coworkers, can help you get through a tough day. Find people you can talk to about what's upsetting to you and who understand what you are going through.

Heidi uses social media to connect with other people who understand living with type 1 diabetes. By connecting with others, she feels supported when it all seems like too much.

"I have some really great friends with type 1 through different social media platforms, and they know what I'm going through and they understand," Heidi said. "For me to get out of a period of burnout, I get support from people who understand what we are thinking and feeling, physically and mentally."

2. Educate Yourself Proactively

Heidi keeps her motivation up by learning more about her condition and diabetes nutrition. She recommends actively seeking out information to help you learn as much as you can about diabetes and how to manage it. For example, what's the right way to monitor glucose levels for you — fingerstick glucose testing or continuous glucose monitoring?

She also reaches out to experts. Spend time with a certified diabetes educator and don't be afraid to ask questions.

"I'm very fortunate to work with certified diabetes educators (CDEs) who are very easy to talk to," Heidi said. "There is no blame in discussing my feelings with them. CDEs understand what it's like for patients, and they have been a great resource for me."

3. Get Involved

Organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation provide opportunities for volunteering and involvement in your community.

"I used to be a diabetes care sales rep, and it was so rewarding to get hugs from children when I gave them their monitor," Heidi explained. "Parents of children with diabetes were glad to meet me because they see that I was diagnosed as a child and that I'm doing well."

Don't forget that in times when you're facing challenges, others may be as well. Being an advocate or source of strength and inspiration for others can help lift you out of a funk, too.

4. Remember Not to Define Yourself by Your Diabetes

The bottom line is this: It's important to have a life that you love outside of your diabetes.

Heidi put it best: "I live life first and get diabetes to fit in. You're told that you can't do things. But you really can, you just need to plan a little bit. Even though the diabetes isn't going anywhere, don't stop living life because of it."