Now that many of my clients are sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and telling me they are bored with Netflix binges; I am asked for tips on things they should do with the extra time on their hands. It is a stressful time, especially for those at high risk for complications. Remember, improving management of blood glucose helps the immune system function properly to fight viruses. This is an opportunity to take advantage of the downtime, stay busy and focus on forming healthy habits! Here are 11 tips for people with diabetes while sheltering in place. For more information on healthy behaviors, visit DiabetesEducator.org/healthybehaviors.
- Practice social distancing.
A word of caution…BEWARE of close contact with other shoppers at the grocers! Food delivery services in many areas are now mandated to provide “no contact” delivery – the groceries are simply left on your doorstep.
- Take a Coronavirus news break.
Take a break from Coronavirus news each day. Constant involvement can increase your stress level and affect your blood glucose.
- Prepare for sick days.
While you have the time, prepare a sick day kit and plan. Be prepared with extra medications, diabetes supplies and contact your diabetes care team for a sick day plan to know if/how much you should adjust insulin or other medications when blood glucose is affected by illness.
- Relieve stress.
Take a few minutes and experience the many benefits of meditation. Stress reduction and improved focus are just two of the benefits of practicing mindfulness. Check out Mindful.org to get started and you will be a meditation expert in no time.
- Pay attention to dental care.
People with diabetes are at an increased risk for gum disease, which in turn can lead to elevated blood glucose. Start an optimal dental care routine with brushing twice daily and flossing every day. If you have red or painful gums, call your dentist!
- Eat healthy.
Healthy eating strategies are critical to managing your diabetes. There are many online resources to get your started. Ask your health care provider for a referral to a certified diabetes care and education specialist who can teach nutrition strategies via online video or telephone visits while you are sheltering in place.
- Make mealtimes a family affair.
Practice preparing healthy meals with your family. Quality time with the family and healthy eating habits for all! Go to the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Food Hub for some quick, easy and healthy recipes.
- Care for your feet.
Don’t forget your feet! Wash, dry and moisturize every day. Thoroughly dry, but do not moisturize, between the toes. Trim toenails carefully straight across, inspect for blisters/sores/redness in skin every day (use hand mirror for soles of feet) and never go barefoot!
- Stay active.
Keep it moving! Just 10 minutes of exercise increases oxygen to the brain, lowers stress, calms nerves, and improves mood. Start low and go slow. Activity groups with friends, family and co-workers using text, Facetime, Skype or Zoom are a great way to motivate. Many companies are offering free or trial access to their apps and local gyms may be streaming group fitness classes. If you have limited mobility, then chair exercises are a perfect option to stay active!
- Learn to cope.
Many people are under large amounts of stress and anxiety during this time. It’s important to practice healthy coping strategies, which for people with diabetes can help avoid spikes in blood glucose. For additional guidance from the CDC on healthy coping and managing stress, checkout their resources.