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December is one of the busiest months of the year. In between all the family events, social hangouts, preparing seasonal meals for that long awaited family Christmas dinner, and making sure you have presents for all your family and friends, it's important to take some time to yourself to slow down.
Here are 6 general diabetes self-care habit areas, as suggested by the American Association of Diabetes Educators, which can help you be more mindful and avoid burning out in the last stretch of 2021!
1. Healthy Eating
Eating well is an important part of managing diabetes. It's also a great general habit to help you prioritise yourself. The right eating plan can help you to manage your blood glucose levels, your blood fats and blood pressure and to maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if that is your new year's goal. This doesn’t mean giving up all of your favourite foods but it may mean eating less of certain foods and more of others. An Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) can help you to develop a personalised eating plan to suit your individual goals.
2. Problem Solving
Diabetes and life share a common characteristic, which is that they're both a balancing act. For diabetes, you'll often be trying to balance food, activity levels and medication to keep your blood glucose levels in target.
This isn’t always easy as there are many different things that can affect your diabetes management, and some are also difficult to plan for. Particularly around the Christmas and New Years time, last minute and spontaneous events will most likely occur. While it can get daunting, the important part is to adopt a solution-focused mindset and look at all your experiences as a learning curve. This will help you to be adaptable and to feel more in control, regardless of whether something happens that may get you off track.
3. Being Active
December can be chaotic for some of us, so it can be beneficial to prioritise exercise into your self-care routine. Exercise doesn’t just help you better manage blood glucose levels, it can also help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, manage weight, reduce stress and depression and improve sleep.
By exercising regularly or getting involved in physical activity, it can give you that much needed moment in your chaotic schedule to boost your energy back up, help you feel good and to think clearer.
When making exercise a focus in your self-care habits, this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. There are plenty of options, such as walking, swimming, playing some tennis with friends, joining a dance class or playing a round of golf.
4. Healthy Coping
Living with a chronic condition like diabetes can affect you emotionally, as well as physically. And amongst the busyness of the month, these feelings can get amplified.
It can be worthwhile to consider what you can do to improve your coping skills. For some, it could be to exercise regularly, or to get enough sleep and rest, make time for activities you enjoy or simply to enlist the support of family and friends.
But remember, while it’s normal for all of us to sometimes feel stressed, anxious or depressed, if your symptoms don’t go away it’s important to seek help.
5. Reducing Risks to your health with regular health checks
December can be a great time to reflect and adopt some systems to help you take better care of yourself, no matter how busy life can get. For example, having diabetes puts you at higher risk of developing a number of other health problems that can go unnoticed and affect your health in the long-term. But having a system of regularly having health checks can help you detect any problems early.
Diabetes Australia recommends a Diabetes Annual Cycle of Care which is completed by your general practitioner to help you and your health professionals in managing your diabetes and to reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications.
You can find out more about the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviours here.
6. Taking Medication
There are many types of medication that your doctor may recommend for you to take when you have diabetes. With the excitement of Christmas foods and drinks, it can be easy to disregard the medication that your doctor prescribes to you. Don't be afraid to discuss this with your doctor or diabetes educator, who can answer your questions or concerns and help you find a personalised strategy to overcome any barriers this season.