Parents, Self-care IS Caring for Your Child with Diabetes
Taking care of a child with diabetes is no small feat. You may often feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and physically and mentally drained. These are all normal feelings. However, research shows that when you make time for yourself, you are more successful in taking care of your child. We are here to encourage you to take some time away to recharge. You are your child’s advocate, protector, and caregiver. That is a tough job! Make this new year an occasion for a new and refreshed you with these tips:
Assemble your village
- You’ve heard the expression “It takes a village,” and we couldn’t agree more. Share responsibilities. Accept help. Speak with the diabetes educators at your child’s endocrine clinic; they are willing to train others to safely tend to your child.
- Surround yourself with people who are supportive! How about going out for a cup of coffee with a friend? It’s good to let someone else in. Try connecting with other parents who have children with type one diabetes. It’s helpful to hear that others have been through similar situations to yours and listen to how they coped. You can meet other parents through Facebook support groups, group appointments/classes at your child’s endocrinology appointment, or maybe through the school nurse.
Take care of yourself
- Maintain good physical health. This encompasses eating a well-balanced diet and incorporating physical activity.
- Planning a weekly menu and prepping the weekend before may cut down on the stress of cooking daily healthy meals. It may be easier in the moment to grab whatever food is handy. However, you will feel more energized if you take time to prepare and consume nutrient-rich foods. Bonus: Your child will see that eating a healthy diet is important.
- Get active! Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, otherwise known as “happy hormones.” So grab a friend and take a quick walk around the block, use an app or on-demand exercise guide, or go to the gym. You will feel great about what you have done for yourself afterward.
- Other endorphin-producing activities include listening to music, laughing, and occasionally indulging in a piece of dark chocolate. (It’s OK to have a secret stash!) Don’t have time to go to a comedy show? There are lots of free podcasts featuring comedians.
- Set aside some “me” time.
- Find 10 to 20 minutes a day to just sit quietly and relax. Some ways to prompt relaxation include visualization, meditation, and prayer. Many free meditation apps are available to guide you through the process. Relaxation techniques help calm your brain and to deepen your awareness of your body and emotions. Creating a relaxing space may help. You can situate yourself in front of a window, use comfy pillows, burn candles, or diffuse essential oils (particularly lavender, which is known for soothing anxiety).
- Set aside some “me” time.
- Take it outdoors
- Sunlight helps your mood, improve your sleep, and boost your energy levels. Think about growing a garden, taking a hike or walk, or even reading a book outside. Lie on your back and watch the clouds.
Remember, feeling good about yourself can be as simple as…
- Painting your nails or getting a haircut.
- Taking a bubble bath.
- Trying a new hobby.
- Spending time with a pet.
- At the end of your day, write down things that make you feel grateful. Keep a log of compliments you receive.
As the old saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s not selfish to take care of yourself—it is necessary. Start small by promising yourself just 10 minutes a day. The more you practice self-care, the more joy and energy you will have to be a great advocate and caregiver for your child.
Our resources page has more information on helping your child enjoy a healthy, active life with type 1 diabetes. You can also call UPMC Health Plan pediatric case managers at 1-866-778-6073. We are happy to help with diabetes education, resources, and tips.
Do something nice for yourself today. You deserve it!