People living with diabetes who also contract the COVID-19 virus may be at risk of becoming more unwell. They may also face a much longer and more difficult recovery than people without diabetes.
As such, a lot of the information and updates from media, government and other sources currently circulating in the diabetes community focuses on to how to reduce your risks of exposure to and of contracting the virus.
It is very likely that you are now either social distancing like a pro, partially self-isolating or in total home lockdown. If the latter is the case, and it is becoming an increasingly likely scenario for everyone, your life might suddenly feel very lonely and a million miles from your “norm”. This can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, unhappiness, seclusion and detachment.
Stress and diabetes do not mix. Stress can raise blood glucose levels, increase insulin resistance and elevate your blood pressure if not managed.
Diabetes WA have put together some tips and suggestions to help you reduce your stress levels, navigate and self-manage your emotional, psychological and social well-being over the coming weeks and/or months while the world retreats into COVID-19 quarantine and isolation:
- Stick to your routine – sleep, eat and get up at usual times. Where possible keep to usual working hours and break times if working from home.
- Although it is tempting, don’t stay in your PJs all day. Get up, shower and dress, clean your teeth and do your hair. Dress comfortably, but for the social or work life you want – not what you have.
- Keep moving and active – at least 30 minutes each day. There are endless ideas on YouTube and online for exercise regardless of age and ability. If all else fails, work up a sweat by dancing, cleaning the house or gardening.
- Get outside and in the fresh air for at least 30 min each day, if possible. Try early morning, late evening to reduce contact.
- Stay connected to family and friends via phone, text, Facetime, Skype, Zoom or Houseparty. Ring that person you have been meaning to contact for months.
- Create individual, personal, alone space for everyone in a household so they can retreat when necessary.
- Eat healthily and stay well hydrated. Try and stick to your usual eating patterns and minimise grazing or bingeing due to boredom or being at home.
- Limit the COVID conversations and continual media you consume. Update yourself from reliable sources a few times a day, avoid coverage around children and sidestep the skewed, OTT or hysterical sources.
- Remind yourself that this situation is only temporary – there will be an end to this chapter and the next one will begin.
- Remember to laugh and smile – create or find humour amidst the pandemic doom. Watch a comedy on Netflix, wheel out those classic Dad jokes, or share a few cat videos from YouTube.
- Practise self-care or indulgence – put on a face mask, take a bath, order Uber-Eats on date night, wear your expensive jewellery around the house, use the fancy wedding crockery, have a glass of wine with lunch – do something that you wouldn’t usually do at home.
- Lower expectations on yourself and those around you – these are extraordinary times and we are all doing our best. There are no failures, no directions and no roadmap.
- Hold your tongue, give people a chance and avoid confrontation where possible. Being cooped up and spending excessive time together can fray nerves and bring out the worst in people. Don’t hold grudges and appreciate everyone will have their “moments and moods” during quarantine.
- Find something out of control in your quarantine world and control it like a boss. Sort out your wardrobe, declutter your spare room, rearrange the furniture, digitise your photos, do that filing or tax paperwork – whatever needs to be controlled, control the hell out of it.
- Start a long-term project or activity that you can pick up from day to day to get lost in. Learn a language, play an epic family Monopoly game, 2000-piece jigsaw, binge watch the Star Wars or Harry Potter sagas, get the Lego down from the attic, write your autobiography or that novel you’ve been dreaming about for years.
- Challenge yourself – try a new recipe each day or once a week, learn all the countries of Africa, learn to braid hair, attempt a cryptic crossword, teach yourself some magic tricks, learn to sew or crochet, take on that DIY project you’ve been thinking about forever.
- Release the artist within. Trying something creative can reduce anxiety, improve mood and relieve tension.
- Break your quarantine horizon into manageable chunks. COVID-19 is an everchanging, unknown beast and there is no time frame. Don’t get overwhelmed with the 3- or 6-month timeframes from the media. Focus on what you can healthily manage – whether that is 1 day, a weekend, 1 week or 1 month at a time.
- Be a good human. Do something unexpected for your partner or those you live with. Support and help others. Look out for elderly or disadvantaged neighbours. Cook an extra meal for a health worker or essential services friend who is tired and working on the front line.
- If you need help – ask for it. There is a community around you of family, friends, neighbours and professionals to reach out and connect to if needed – any time of the day.
- Find the lessons and the positives that can be taken from this crisis – both big and small. Will we change anything about ourselves personally, about those close to us, the way we live, our communities and the world around us? What really is important