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Diabetes Outlook

Setbacks & Burnout

Having diabetes can sometimes feel like a full-time job. No matter how wonderful your care team is or how great your treatment plan, sometimes it’s hard to cope. There are so many things that require constant attention. On one hand you must test and monitor your glucose levels. On the other are your medications, diet and everything else clamoring for your attention. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. If you’re feeling this way, don't get too down, because these feelings are normal and you can take back control once you spot the symptoms.

Do you have diabetes burnout?

Of course no two people are exactly the same. Different people may experience burnout in slightly different ways. However, there are some telltale signs that you have diabetes burnout. These include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes it all seems like too much. You may feel defeated or wonder how long you can go on.
  • Feeling frustrated or angry. You may wonder, “why me?” You may feel frustrated at the unfairness of it all.
  • Feeling like your diabetes controls your life.  You may feel like you are no longer in control.
  • Losing your motivation to care for yourself. Taking care of yourself—and your diabetes—may seem like too much work. You may find yourself wanting to skip things you should be doing. Things like checking your glucose, exercising and counting carbs.
  • Putting off or skipping doctor’s appointments.
  • Feeling alone and isolated.  

What can you do if you’re feeling burnt out?

No matter how it may feel, you’re not alone. Most people with diabetes experience burnout at some point. And no matter how overwhelmed you may feel, there are things you can do to feel better.

  • Take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow—or next week—just focus on today. And don’t beat yourself up over things that happened yesterday.
  • Think about the words you use. Do you think about your glucose levels as “good” or “bad”? If so, you’re setting yourself up for burnout. How about the foods you eat? Try not to think about things as “good” or “bad.” Think of your glucose readings in terms of “high” and “low.” Think about food as “healthy” or “not so healthy.” Good and bad have a big emotional impact. They lead to guilt. And guilt leads to burnout.
  • Don’t criticize yourself for how you feel. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Or frustrated. Or even angry. Beating yourself up for feeling this way just leads to guilt and even more negative emotions. It’s ok to be less than perfect sometimes.
  • Connect with other people. It’s easy to feel like you’re all alone. But you aren’t alone—millions of other people are struggling with the same problems you have. Reach out to other people with diabetes. Join a support group. Read and post on internet forums. Sometimes just knowing you’re not the only one dealing with this disease can make all the difference in the world.
  • Speak to your diabetes care team about your feelings. They are experts on the subject and can offer you some tips on how to best stay on track.

Last but not least

Accept that you can’t control everything. Sometimes you don’t reach your goals in spite of your best efforts. It happens. Good diabetes care doesn’t mean being “perfect.” It means giving it your best effort. Acknowledging that you don’t have to be perfect can go a long way toward fighting burnout. 


The contents of DiabetesOutlook.com are intended solely for informational purposes and do not replace the advice of your physician or diabetes care team. You should not rely on any information provided by DiabetesOutlook.com without also consulting your physician. DiabetesOutlook.com maintains all information collected in accordance with applicable law.

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