Richard R. Rubin, Ph.D., C.D.E., is an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins, and he is the co-author of “Psyching Out Diabetes: A Positive Approach to Your Negative Emotions,” “Sweet Kids,” and “The Johns Hopkins Guide to Diabetes.” He also has written extensively on the effects of diabetes education, psychological problems associated with diabetes and techniques for counseling people with diabetes as well as lived with a sister and son who developed the disease.
Dr. Rubin spent several years researching people with diabetes and he came up with what he calls “A journey toward easier and more effective diabetes management based on mastering five specific skills.”
In his research he explains that each diabetes success story is unique, but when he thinks of all the success stories he has heard over the years, it is clear that there is a specific set of skills that make for easier and more effective diabetes management. He asks, what do people who live well with diabetes have in common?
They tend to be good planners.
They get help when they need it.
They manage stress well.
They avoid diabetes burnout.
They maintain their motivation.
The skills that spell success:
Plan to succeed. Making changes to live healthier takes work—hard work with no vacations. That’s why a critical—and often overlooked—first step toward living well with diabetes is knowing exactly why you are doing all that work. Some reasons might sound good, but aren’t really good enough to keep you motivated, like “my doctor told me I should,” or “I know it would be better for me.” I have found that people stay motivated longer when their reasons are more personal, more specific, and more positive: “I want to be around to see my grandson get his high school diploma,” or “I want to still be working in my garden when I’m 90,” or even “I need to stay healthy to enjoy whatever life has in store for me.”
Planning to succeed also means being realistic; “slow and steady” definitely wins the race when it comes to living well with diabetes, or even preventing it in the first place. One of my research studies found that people at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes who lost just 10 pounds and kept it off cut their risk of developing the disease during the study period (about 3 years) by 58 percent! This powerful “small steps, big rewards” message also applies to people who already have diabetes—lowering your weight, or your blood glucose, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels just a little bit can make a big difference in your health. The American Diabetes Association has a new service called Diabetes PHD that lets you enter personal health information and see how much healthier you could be—and how much longer you could live—with small changes in your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. To try this service, go to www.diabetes.org/diabetesphd/default.jsp.
Get support when you need it. Diabetes is a family disease in many ways. Your diabetes affects the people who love you, and their actions affect how you manage your diabetes. Are you getting enough support? Or are you instead getting too much “support” from some people, who seem to have joined the “diabetes police”? Do you know how to locate help for improving your diabetes management from other sources, like the Internet, magazines, books, or education classes?
Manage stress well. Some people are really good at managing the stress of life with diabetes. They know how to resist tempting desserts without feeling deprived, they manage low blood glucose reactions without much fuss, and they seem to cope well with all the other demands of their disease, large and small.
These people tell me there are two keys to success when it comes to stress management—maintaining your sense of hope, and maintaining your sense of humor. Hope and humor are the closest things to magic in the world. Use the power of hope and humor to lift your spirits and improve your health.
Avoiding “diabetes burnout.” No matter how well you manage the stress of life with diabetes there will be times when you feel down about it. That’s normal, even inevitable, given how demanding diabetes can be.
If your diabetes blues linger, you might be suffering from “diabetes burnout” or even from depression, serious conditions that often require help to resolve. Fortunately, both conditions are treatable. Good diabetes education can often relieve diabetes burnout, and counseling or medication can relieve depression. Effective treatment of these conditions can also improve blood glucose control.
So that’s the plan, a journey toward easier and more effective diabetes management based on mastering five specific skills.
I hope this helps! If you want to become more involved, join the Global Diabetes Handprint. OneTouch® the company behind keeping one’s diabetes under control believes that when we all speak together, our voice will be heard.
The inspiration for The Word in Your Hand™ Project was found at TuDiabestes.com® and OneTouch® joined in and created the “Global Diabetes Handprint.” It is thru this that everyone can raise awareness of the disease.
By writing a word on your hand expressing your feelings about diabetes and sharing your story behind it, you’ll become part of the global community that puts a human face on diabetes for the entire world to see.
OneTouch® will donate $5 to one of two diabetes charities for every hand that comes to them. Their goal is to donate $250,000 by June 30th.
They could use a hand! Please send in yours. http://www.diabeteshandprint.com/