Managing Anxiety - Coping with Diabetes

Everyone feels nervous or anxious from time to time, especially in a stressful situation. This is normal and, often, even helpful.

Anxiety is a survival mechanism that can help you get through a difficult situation. If you are face-to-face with a man-eating bear or have to give a lecture before 1,000 people, for example, feeling a little anxious can help you get through the ordeal. But if you find that you feel nervous or anxious in situations that are not stressful to most people or if your anxiety is so intense and long-lasting that it interferes with day-to-day living, you may have a more serious problem called an anxiety disorder.

The issue is not that your worries are unfounded, but that your worries are more intense, frequent, or last longer than others experience in a similar situation. Feelings of anxiety can coexist with feelings of depression.

If you experience any of the following, you may have an anxiety disorder:

  • You feel restless, feel irritable, and have difficulty concentrating much of the time.
  • You tend to feel very worried or concerned about almost everything.
  • You feel tired or easily fatigued.
  • You have problems sleeping.
  • You avoid people or places.
  • You feel panicked or scared for no reason.
  • You are not able to stop thinking about something.
  • You feel like you have to do something over and over again, such as washing your hands or checking door locks.
  • Your muscles feel tense or you experience frequent headaches.

If your worries or concerns are beginning to interfere with daily living or prevent you from enjoying the things you once enjoyed, it is time to seek help. First, try talking with your provider. Your anxiety could have a physical cause.

If there is no physical cause, you may be referred to a mental health counselor.  Through medication,  counseling,  or a combination of both, your mental health counselor may help you find a way to handle or decrease your feelings of anxiety.

Boosting Your Self-Esteem
It is much easier to meet life’s challenges with a healthy dose of self-esteem. You do better in your work, studies, and personal relationships, and you are more likely to go after what you want out of life when you feel good about yourself. But, unfortunately, diabetes can gnaw away at your sense of self-worth.

Some people with diabetes blame themselves for having the illness or its complications. Or they think less of themselves because they feel different. This can happen whether you are a child, a teenager, or an adult. Some people even wonder if they are being punished when they get diabetes.

Many of our feelings of self-worth stem from the messages we were given as children (both positive and negative) and the messages we give ourselves as adults. One way to boost your feelings of self-worth is to give yourself affirming and positive messages. Recognize your good qualities and give yourself a break, even if no one else does.

When you are feeling good about yourself, write down a list of all your strengths and positive qualities. Include things you are especially good at doing. When someone pays you a compliment, add it to the list. Then on days when you are feeling down, take out the list and remind yourself of what a great person you are. If you have trouble coming up with things to put on the list, ask those around you who like and love you. Often your friends and family are quicker to recognize your strengths than you might be.

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