Diabetes can be particularly challenging at the best of times but as we learn to live in a covid environment, it is more important than ever to look after your mental health as well as your diabetes. We know times of stress can affect blood glucose levels along with symptoms of illness such as colds or viral infections so try to not become overwhelmed with all the information overload on COVID- 19.
The HSE website has lots of useful information on protecting yourself against COVID-19 and what to look out for, the sections below have been adapted from their website. Some people may find living with COVID-19 more worrying than others. Try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus and the vaccine offers protection also.
Learning to live with COVID may cause you to have increased feelings of anxiety and stress and you may be constantly checking for raised glucose levels. You may fear that an ache, pain or cough might be the virus whereas before these may have gone unnoticed.
We have noted these are all common concerns from the volume of calls we are getting to the Helpline and from the number of queries on Facebook and to our info box because diabetes has been listed as an underlying condition.
It is important first and foremost to stay safe but also to acknowledge your feelings around anxiety and stress but maybe also to step back, ask for help and try not to get overwhelmed.
In the following webinar Dr Austin Bayley, Senior Clinical Psychologist from the Mater Hospital Dublin speaks on ways of managing stress and coping effectively during COVID-19 as a person with diabetes.
How to mind your Mental Health during this time:
Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important.
Here are some ways you can do this.
- Stay informed but set limits for news and social media.
- The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about COVID 19 could cause you to feel worried.
- Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.
On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own.
Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety.
Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.
If you find the coverage on COVID 19 is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support, call us on our helpline on 01 8428118 if you have a particular query around your diabetes.
Your routine may be affected by pandemic in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day and a healthy routine.
It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing.
For example, you could try to:
• Exercise regularly, being out in the fresh air and nature
• Keep regular sleep routines.
• Maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
• Avoid excess alcohol.
• Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
• Read a book.
• Follow your diabetes team advice on glucose testing, there is no need to increase testing unless you feel unwell.
During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life.
If you’re advised to limit your social contact to contain the virus, try to stay connected to people in other ways, e-mail, social media, video calls or phone calls can help you to stay social during this time.
Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety.
You don’t have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.
Talking to children and young people and involving your children in your plans to manage this situation is important. Try to consider how they might be feeling. Give children and young people the time and space to talk about the outbreak. Share the facts with them in a way that suits their age and temperament, without causing alarm. Talk to your children, but try to limit their exposure to news and social media. This is especially important for older children who may be spending more time online now. It may be causing anxiety.
Try to anticipate distress and support each other:
It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the pandemic, acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health. If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.
Online and phone supports:
Face-to-face interaction may be limited during this period.
There are many online mental health resources and phone services that can help.
Alone is a charity supporting people to stay at home, telephone number is 0818 222 024 website is www.Alone.ie
Contact Diabetes Ireland on 01 8428118 if you are concerned about your diabetes and speak to one of our healthcare professionals.
Our office hours are 9-5 Monday to Friday and our email is [email protected]