Living with a chronic health condition is something that many of us will have to deal with at some point in life, and juggling unwanted symptoms with the stresses and strains of modern life can feel like a daunting task. But the good news is that by getting to know your condition and how it works, there are some simple measures you can put in place to make things feel a little bit easier, and ultimately, continue living your life to the full.
In the UK, an estimated 4.8 million people in the UK are currently living with diabetes – with around a million of those still thought to be undiagnosed. Diabetes type two is by far the most prevalent, accounting for up to 90 percent of all cases – but it’s also the most preventable type, which means that even if you don’t currently have the condition, there are some lifestyle changes you can make now to dramatically reduce the chances of it developing.
If you already have a diagnosis, then incorporating healthy lifestyle habits into your daily life can be demanding, but it’s still entirely possible – and doing so will make the world of difference when it comes to your symptoms as well as your blood sugar levels themselves.
Here, we take a look at what the professionals say you can be doing now to keep the condition in check.
1. Plan ahead
While planning ahead is very important for every area of our lives, it is especially crucial for diabetics on a busy schedule. When you plan ahead, you can ensure that the meals you eat throughout the day are balanced and nutritious and that you have the right snacks on hand to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Forward planning should also factor in any potential emergencies, or lapses in your schedule that may occur, and that could adversely affect your health or require emergency medication. Keeping online pharmacy contacts at hand in case any issues should arise is a wise move, and will ensure you’re always prepared for any challenges, wherever you happen to be at the time.
Making the right food choices is key when you’re diabetic, so don’t leave things to chance. Planning ahead will also allow you to better manage your time so that you can fit in regular exercise and other activities that help maintain good health, and give you peace of mind knowing that all of your needs are taken care of in advance.
2. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for everyone, but it’s especially important for diabetics. Poor sleep tends to cause an increase in blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous and in some cases, even life-threatening – so it’s not a risk you’ll want to take if you can avoid it.
Dramatic increases in blood sugar levels can make it harder to manage diabetes, as well as other health conditions that may be associated with it, so keeping it as stable as possible is key.
Your blood sugar isn’t the only thing that can suffer when you fail to get the nightly recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye. Lack of sleep can also cause fatigue and impair cognitive function, making it difficult to focus on tasks or make important decisions throughout the day – which means it’s extra important for diabetics, in particular, to ensure they get enough restful sleep each night.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by setting a consistent bedtime and sticking to it as rigorously as possible. Even if you have a busy schedule, try not to deviate as creating a routine can make it easier to drift off and stay asleep over time. Avoid caffeine late in the day and limit screen time before bedtime – and create a comfortable sleeping environment by keeping your bedroom dark and cool at night.
3. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly
As a diabetic, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels on a regular basis. By doing so, you’ll be able to keep track of how things are going, and make any necessary adjustments to keep things on track. Keeping an eye on your blood sugar levels will also allows you to identify any potential problems before they become serious, such as hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, and address them accordingly – something that’s important when it comes to keeping symptoms and complications at bay.
Gaining a better understanding of how certain foods affect your body and how different activities impact your glucose levels can help you to plan your meals and schedule more effectively to support your needs, and provides you with invaluable knowledge when it comes to making lifestyle changes that will benefit your health in the long run.
Even if you have a busy schedule, it’s important to take the time to check and monitor your blood sugar levels regularly in order to stay healthy and manage diabetes effectively – so don’t be tempted to skip this vital step.
4. Exercising regularly
Exercise is an important tool when it comes to managing diabetes, and can be really effective in helping to regulate blood sugar levels – ultimately, reducing the risk of complications. It can be harder to maintain a regular exercise routine on a busy schedule, but even on packed days, there are some simple ways to incorporate movement into your day.
Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, or walking or biking to work instead of driving are ways you can do so without having to carve out a dedicated window of time for your exercise. You can also break up your workouts into smaller chunks throughout the day if that works better for your schedule – for example, you could do ten minutes of HIIT or stretching in the morning before work, and ten minutes at lunchtime or after dinner.
Look for activities that don’t take up a lot of your time but still provide the health benefits associated with regular movement – yoga and tai chi are both gentle forms of exercise that can also help with stress management.
And make sure to talk to your doctor about any specific exercises that may be beneficial for managing your diabetes, and discuss any safety precautions you should take when exercising with the condition to ensure you’re doing the best for your health.
Living with a chronic condition comes with its challenges, but creating healthy lifestyle habits that are tailored to your individual needs and goals can help you manage diabetes no matter what life throws at you. And, by prioritising self-care, planning ahead and taking advantage of the resources available to you, you can make the most of your time and continue enjoying life to the full.