Diabetes and depression often go hand in hand. The 24/7 challenge of managing a chronic disease requires constant attention to diet, exercise, sleep and stress. It’s a BIG job to juggle all the pieces. And it can be discouraging and downright depressing at times!
Fortunately, both conditions are responsive to lifestyle behavior changes. Meaning, if you change your lifestyle, you can change the outcome. According to the American Diabetes Association, changing your diet to include more fresh whole foods and reducing refined carbohydrates can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar. Regular daily moderate to vigorous exercise can reduce depression and reverse Type 2 diabetes. Yet, it’s not so easy to change the habits and behaviors of a lifetime.
Change Your Story
So how do you get from where you are to where you want to be?
Research shows writing supports behavior change. The actual practice of writing down your frustrations around diabetes, your dreams of a preferred lifestyle, and your goals builds self-confidence. Writing puts you in control – it gives you direction and clarity. You know what you have to do. Then, when you set up a plan and achieve your goals, you have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Writing has even been found to boost immune functioning – a real plus when you’re overwhelmed with diabetes and all its side effects.
So, how’s your story going? Is diabetes defining your life? Or, are you defining diabetes’ role in your life? Put yourself in control. Try writing to help you zap the sugar blues.
4 Steps to Better Health
1 – Write the naked truth of your story. Do you hate diabetes? Do you want it to go away! Putting it all in writing helps you face the facts.
2 – Then write a new story of your preferred lifestyle. What if, you could manage this disease. How would you feel? What would you do? Would you travel, ride a bike, take long walks. Even though it’s not your reality, write about that too.
3 – Set some health goals and write them down. Under the guidance of your doctor or other health care professionals, look at your diet, address your activity level, consider what drives your stress, and learn more about good sleep hygiene. These are the basics that can make or break how you manage diabetes and depression.
4 – Finally, look at all that you’ve written about diabetes. Are you excited about the new direction you’ve laid out? If so, move forward with your plans. If not, what’s stopping you? Address those barriers first.
Take Back Your Life
When you take these 4 steps, you incorporate diabetes into your story. Diabetes hasn’t gone away. But, you’ve defined a new path to health and well-being. By writing about your ups and downs, you’re able to acknowledge your struggles. Then you can start again with a fresh sheet of paper and lay out a new plan.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The Get Well Project is offering a workshop called Not Too Sweet to Handle: Write to Manage Your Diabetes. If you’re living with diabetes or know someone who is, join us to learn how writing creates a new diabetes story – one focused on health and positivity.
In Good Health,