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What to do during diabetes burnout: diabetes coaching

We’ve been talking about diabetes burnout a lot lately – what it is, what to do about it and how to help during diabetes burnout. The other option we want to discuss is how diabetes coaching can help.

Burnout and diabetes coaching

Our recent Ask Me Anything (AMA) event about diabetes burnout discussed this topic exactly – you can watch the recording of it here, if you’re interested.

We were lucky enough to have Kate Bristow with us to answer our questions. Kate is a qualified nursing sister and certified diabetes educator who runs a Centre for Diabetes in Pietermaritzburg. She has been involved in diabetes education since 2006, and has a Diploma in Diabetes Care from Glammorgan University.

Kate is one of the LibreCoach diabetes coaches, and has a wealth of experience in diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2. Here’s some of her advice:

How can you motivate yourself and stay resilient in managing diabetes?

Adam Brown talks about 42 different factors that can affect your blood sugar. Not all of them are within your control. Staying positive and getting more knowledge about diabetes is always a good idea – so is setting yourself achievable goals and being kind to yourself if you don’t achieve them. That’s where a coach can be helpful.

LibreCoach is a free service offered to anyone using the FreeStyle Libre in South Africa. You can sign up for it here.

Any go to tips for handling a burnout? 

  • Be gentle with yourself and remember burnout is natural and happens to most of us, particularly to those managing a chronic condition.
  • Self criticism is very damaging – try to recognise that there’s no such thing as perfection in diabetes (this article might help!)
  • Reach out to family and friends, your psychologist if you have one, and your diabetes team. Your diabetes team needs to be your safe space. Diabetes coaching can play a really helpful role here, because your diabetes coach can help you work through many of the daily details of your diabetes management.
  • Exercise increases our happy hormones! Do at least 20 mins a day – walking with a friend is always a good idea. (Here are some other ideas for 20 mins of fun exercise).
  • Apply a mindfulness practice to your life. It’s a great exercise to reduce stress and can be very simple – breathe in and out 10 times, and focus on what you hear and smell, with your eyes closed.

How do you identify diabetes burnout in kids? 

The first thing is to notice any behaviour changes. They may be moody or slightly rebellious. They might feel resentful of taking care of their diabetes, or stop testing, or miss doses. Another common tactic is to change the topic when challenged about anything to do with diet or diabetes. Parents of kids with diabetes can also get burnout from all the management needed to care for a child with diabetes… This Type 1 Diabetes Guidebook – for parents might help.

How can other members in the household assist to mitigate the risk of diabetes burnout? 

Avoid being the diabetes police. Ask questions with no judgement or criticism.

Communication is important as part of support – if you are a person living with diabetes, share how are feeling with your partner.

“The first skill that I like to explore with my clients is quite simply problem solving. So we want to do some brainstorming around:
• What does my diabetes burnout look like?
• What are the things that are causing or increasing the state of burnout?
• And are these things that I am able to affect any degree of change?”

Daniel Sher, Type 1 psychologist

The denial of having diabetes has a huge influence with living a healthy and normal life. Every person is not mentally strong enough to deal with something like this – then what?

Denial is often one of the very first emotions that comes after a diabetes diagnosis. One may feel like it’s not a big deal, and there is also a lot of stigma associated with diabetes, usually due to lack of education.

Denial is a process of acceptance and might not happen all at once. Be kind to yourself. It is important to reach out to a psychologist if you feel you are in denial and struggling with your diagnosis. A psychologist can support and help you talk through the anger and other emotions you may be feeling (here’s how to access a psychologist in public care).

Diabetes coaching can also be very helpful here. If you’re using the FreeStyle Libre, sign up for free LibreCoach support and see if it helps.

How do I stop burnout from sneaking up on me?

The most important thing is being emotionally aware. Be aware of when your blood sugar goes high or low. Be aware of how you are feeling and communicate that with either a diabetes coach or counsellor. Chatting to a diabetes coach regularly will help you spot burnout symptoms as they are developing.

“The best explanation I have heard about diabetes burnout is that it’s like a broken tap that keeps dripping and dripping into a bucket. If you ignore it, eventually the bucket runs over.”

Lurina Fourie, The Glucose Glitch

Watch the full video here: AMA: Ask Me Anything

Sign up for free LibreCoach diabetes support here or by taking a photo of this QR code.

What to read next?

Diabetes distress and burnout: what to do about it?: Diabetes distress and burnout are a reality at some stage for everyone living with diabetes. Here’s advice on what to do about it – from a psychologist living with diabetes.

Diabetes and mental health: a video: We know that diabetes and mental health is a big issue for many people. Watch this video to hear Daniel Sher, clinical psychologist and Type 1 diabetic answer question about mental health.

Join this mental health support group for young adults living with diabetes: SADAG recently launched a new support group for young adults living with diabetes. We had a chat with one of their co-facilitators, Courtney Sandham, to find out more.

Photos by Dustin Belt and Jimmy Dean on Unsplash

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  1. […] What to do during diabetes burnout: diabetes coaching: We’ve been talking about diabetes burnout a lot lately – what it is, what to do about it and how to help during diabetes burnout. The other option we want to discuss is how diabetes coaching can help. […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.