How to Deal with Diabetes Burnout

Published on 
May 30, 2024
May 30, 2024
Virta Health
Virta Health
Virta Health

Having diabetes can be exhausting. Balancing the daily responsibilities of managing blood sugar levels, food choices, medication, and other aspects of diabetes care can be overwhelming to say the least. Managing diabetes can often feel like juggling multiple balls; dropping one might make you feel like you’re struggling to keep everything in motion."

Take Cheryl, whose financial struggles and depression led her to stop managing her diabetes. Or Lester, a veteran who felt mentally drained by his type 2 diabetes, describing it as a “life sentence”. These two Virta members represent the millions of people living with diabetes in the United States who are navigating competing priorities. Given these complexities, it's understandable that some may experience diabetes burnout.

What is Diabetes Burnout? 

Diabetes burnout is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion specifically related to the ongoing management of diabetes. This condition may result in loss of motivation, leading to neglect of necessary self care practices like monitoring blood sugar, choosing healthy foods, taking medications as prescribed and following up with a diabetes care team. It’s crucial to understand that while diabetes burnout is common, it is not inevitable or a sign of personal failure. With appropriate strategies and support, people can manage these challenges effectively.

Symptoms of Diabetes Burnout

Symptoms of diabetes burnout may include feeling defeated or trapped by the perceived relentless demands of managing the disease. Someone suffering from this condition might feel burdened by the increased risk of kidney, liver, and heart disease, or fear amputation, blindness, and loss of mobility. Without appropriate support, these emotions can lead to social isolation or detachment, further intensifying this destructive cycle.

If you notice persistent changes in your mood, behavior, or thoughts that negatively affect your daily life, relationships, and ability to function, you should seek support from your primary care provider who can refer you to a mental health specialist. 

Tips for Dealing with Diabetes Burnout

If you’re dealing with diabetes burnout, know that you are not alone. Managing diabetes can be really hard, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times by the constant demands of diabetes. There are steps you can take to ease the burden of diabetes burnout:

Seek support

It’s important to have a support team to help you deal with diabetes burnout. This can include your primary care provider and your diabetes care team (including your Virta Health Coach and Virta Medical Provider). Your care team provides both practical and emotional support, resources, and referrals to other professionals, if needed. Many people with diabetes also find peer support to be crucial, so seeking out a local or online community can reinforce that you have allies who might also be going through diabetes burnout and can offer additional support.

Revisit your why

If your reason for managing your blood sugar and improving your metabolic health is even somewhat murky, it’s hard to stay motivated on your goals. Regularly revisiting your “why” helps you refocus you on the most important reasons for maintaining your health. This might include seeing your grandchildren graduate high school, being there for your family and other loved ones, or maintaining your independence and vitality as you age so that you can participate in the activities that give you joy.

Redesign your goals

Just like revisiting your why on a regular basis, redesigning your goals can help you more confidently make progress. Lean on your diabetes care team to set realistic targets that reflect your current health status and where you’d like to see yourself in the short term. For example, instead of setting a lofty goal of losing 75 lbs, start with a target of losing 10 lbs over the next 3 months. Your care team can help you design a new plan that is tailored to your individual preferences, lifestyle, and needs. 

Show yourself grace

Remember that your blood sugar numbers are a reflection of how your body is responding to your care plan, not a reflection of who you are as a person. Avoid using words like “should”, “shouldn’t”, “good” or “bad”. Practice saying mantras like “I am a person trying my best to take care of myself every day.” In addition to changing the message you say to yourself, take the opportunity to prioritize the things that make you feel good. Perhaps that’s meeting friends for coffee, heading to your favorite bookstore, or taking a weekend trip to a nearby city for a short getaway. 

The Takeaway

Diabetes burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that can challenge your health, but it doesn’t define your journey. To combat this, it's important to seek support from healthcare providers and peers who understand your experiences. Regularly revisiting your personal motivations and setting realistic goals can help maintain your focus and progress. Most importantly, show yourself grace and recognize each step you take as an accomplishment. 

If you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and want to live a healthier lifestyle, Virta Health may be able to help. By making healthy lifestyle changes in a medical setting with supportive resources like 1:1 virtual coaching, you can regain control of your health and feel like yourself again. See if you’re eligible for Virta Health here.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any advice relating to your health. View full disclaimer

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