Whether you live with diabetes yourself or are a caregiver, the constant battle to keep blood glucose levels in a safe range can become overwhelming. That is why for me, living life four hours at a time was my go-to way to combat diabetes burnout.
What is diabetes burnout?
According to a 2019 article in the American Journal of Nursing, “diabetes burnout refers to both a psychosocial concept and a condition. Diabetes burnout can be debilitating and ongoing, often leading to challenges with self-management, suboptimal self-care, a high prevalence of diabetes-associated comorbidities and complications, a decreased quality of life, and increased health care costs”.
How I combat diabetes burnout
For me, as a caregiver, the best way I found to combat burnout was to simply break life down into four-hour chunks. If you take everything in four-hour strides, you can ride through almost anything.
We tend to eat breakfast and four hours later have lunch. After lunch, you may go four or five hours before supper. Once you have finished your evening meal, you probably have at least another four hours before bed. This method allows you to break your day down and celebrate the little victories rather than feeling that nothing has gone right.
Rapid-acting insulin tends to last four hours
There is another reason I chose to live life four hours at a time to help with diabetes burnout. Early on I learned that my son’s Humalog was supposed to last about 4 hours. He was injected at 8am for breakfast, then at noon for lunch, around 5pm for supper and then again at 9pm for his nighttime snack.
I was going crazy trying to see a perfect 24 hour day. The constant highs and lows of high blood glucose levels would make me feel like I was fighting a losing battle.
It was so rare to see a full day of in range readings that I felt like I was constantly failing as a pancreas.
Eventually, I realized that looking at a complete day was rarely ever going to make me happy. The only way to see success was to look at small chunks of time. Coincidentally, that was also how we made changes to his insulin regimen.
The first question we always asked was, was his breakfast ratio of carbs to insulin off? How about at bedtime? Was the spike from his snack not being covered?
Life was naturally being broken down into 4-hour chunks for me so why not work with that?
This strategy even worked as insulin pumpers
Now I know some of you will say, but we are using an insulin pump so that won’t work for me. Yes, it will! Chances are high that you are still doing things like having breakfast, lunch and supper. I am quite certain that you are going to bed at one point as well. All these events can be broken down and again my four-hour strategy for life applied.
Celebrate when you get it right
Rather than getting overwhelmed by the battles of highs and lows, celebrating an in-range reading can help to ward off some of the feelings of diabetes burnout.
If my child was in range for an afternoon, I would celebrate being a successful pancreas. I would mentally break into a happy dance!!!
Was there an issue after supper? Okay, I would then sit down to look at what could be done.
Now it’s your turn.
When diabetes seems to be kicking your butt every morning, look at how things are going between lunch and supper. Are things okay? Give yourself a mental high-five and celebrate that victory rather than dwelling on the post-breakfast spike that this threatening to drive you over the edge.
Do overnights seem overwhelming? Again, break it down. How are things from snack until 12 or 1am? What is life like in the deepest part of the night? Are things settled before breakfast or has chaos been awakened in those four hours? If you break it down into six four-hour periods, life becomes a bit more manageable and instead of seeing all of the bad, you can savor some of the good.
It is not a cure but it helps
This strategy won’t cure diabetes. It won’t take away the financial stress or some of the other challenges that you may be facing. However, life is a little less overwhelming in four-hour shots.
For me, taking life four hours at a time allowed me to focus on what I needed to change and to praise myself when I got it right…and we all need a lot more praise in our lives.
Make your day a little easier with a 4 hours at a time download.