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The more freedom, the more anxiety?
Across the world, many people are now experiencing a new kind of
freedom. As the incidence of COVID-19 in some countries has fallen,
lockdown life is starting to ease. For some, this means that life is
beginning to feel less restricted, however this can bring about
another unique set of challenges when living with a chronic condition
such as diabetes.
It is always important to take care of yourself and your diabetes first, and in this article we will look at some practical support to manage new feelings and emotions to help minimise the impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.
Many countries are starting to embrace the easing of lockdown
restrictions, but this can lead to new challenges for managing your
Perhaps you had adjusted and become comfortable with how best to keep well during lockdown, despite the monotony of living, working and studying within the same four walls. But then, life changes again and this brings its own psychological impacts. You may find that you are feeling anxious or worried as the restrictions begin to lift and society begins to interact again.
These emotions are common at any time of significant change. Increases in fear, anxiety, and feelings of low mood or a lack in motivation can be some of the changes you may notice at one point or another. However, there are things you can do to help manage and reduce these feelings while still taking reasonable steps to protect yourself from the potential risks of becoming ill due to COVID-19.
1. Focus on the positives:
- Write a diary of what you’re grateful for – three things each day. On more difficult days, look at what you’ve previously written to help you focus on the positive aspects of your life and know that you will feel better again soon.
- Try to limit your exposure to the news around COVID-19. With the availability of 24-hour rolling coverage, negative news stories can quickly become overwhelming and distract from the positives in your immediate environment. Allow yourself to check the news once or twice a day, and have a day off whenever you can.
- Professor Tim Skinner
(Diabetes and Health Psychologist in Australia) recommends choosing
to do activities that create a sense of Achievement, Companionship
and/or Enjoyment. This is known as “ACE” and by giving a score out
of ten for the activity for each category (A, C, and E) it can give
you an idea of what certain activities mean to you – if the total
score of A, C and E is below 10, then it’s not that beneficial for
2. Capture and communicate your feelings:
- It can be helpful for both you and your loved ones if you try to talk about concerns or feelings of anxiety with family and friends. Sharing this can help them better understand your perspective and the reasons behind your actions to take good care of yourself and your diabetes in these challenging times. By communicating openly, they are more likely to be supportive and understand when there are activities, such as larger family gatherings, that you are not comfortable with.
- Highlighting what others can do to help protect you can reduce your own feelings of worry, for example by ensuring close friends and family are practicing good hand hygiene, wearing a mask in crowded places and maintaining social distancing in accordance with local guidelines.
- Rather than spending too long worrying about things that make you feel anxious, try to write them down on a pad of paper and come back to them later. Try not to suppress how you feel but set aside time (e.g. 15 minutes) each day to think about the things that you’re finding difficult. This will help you to limit the time you spend on worrying and give you more time to move forwards with positive activities.
3. Seek more support:
- Try to remember you are not alone with your feelings and anxieties. With the right support around you, you will feel better equipped to cope during this time of change and uncertainty.
- Many people living with diabetes find the online diabetes community is able to provide education and help reduce fears and worries associated with your own management routine. You may find that connecting with those who understand what you are experiencing and how different the situation is for those living with diabetes can be really helpful.
You can hear Sara Möback (Global Diabetes Advocate living with Type 1 Diabetes in Sweden) and Professor Tim Skinner (Diabetes and Health Psychologist in Australia) talk about the challenges people with diabetes are facing as the lockdown restrictions are eased.
There is also lots of useful content on Diabetes What’s Next,
including articles on dealing
with stress and feeling
anxious that you may find interesting, as well as this interview
with Dr. Frank Snoek if you are finding life under lockdown is
affecting your mental wellbeing.
If you are having difficulties in controlling your blood glucose levels, it’s important to speak to your diabetes team. They can offer tips and advice, or they may need to adjust your medication(s).
This is general disease awareness and should not be understood as medical advice. If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 or have questions, doubts or concerns, you should contact your doctor. Always follow the advice of local authorities.