5 Self-Care Tips for Managing Diabetes During COVID-19 Pandemic
New Delhi: The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced millions of people indoors and into isolation or quarantine. At the same time, it has created an infinity of questions about both physical and mental concerns during this period. This pandemic has reminded us and given us an opportunity to control the controllable. Now is a good time to start improving healthy habits in five key areas you can control when it comes to managing type-2 diabetes
- Take your medication as directed
False reports have suggested that taking diabetes or high blood pressure medications make you more susceptible to catching the virus. That’s just not true. If you stop taking prescribed medications, you’re setting yourself up for serious complications.
While we’re at it, let’s dispel a few more myths. Drinking alcohol or smoking will not kill the virus or protect against it. Both activities lower our immunity and could increase the risk of poor outcomes. And please do not eat, drink, inject, or inhale disinfectants. Cleaning products are designed for external surfaces – not our insides.
- Stay active while you are at home
Exercise such as walking and lifting light weights is important to diabetes management. It can help you achieve a healthy weight, which can improve your blood sugar control. Exercise can also reduce your risks for other chronic issues, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Second, staying active builds in opportunities to monitor your foot and leg health. Neuropathy, or loss of sensation in the lower extremities, is common with diabetes. If you have it and you step on an object that cuts your foot, you might not feel it. The cut can fester into an ulcer and lead to a serious infection that can be difficult to control. (This is particularly important now because many of us are staying at home and going barefoot.)
As you’re putting on your walking shoes or getting ready for yoga, look for wounds. If the area is swollen, irritated, or discolored, call the doctor to see what you should do, particularly if the wound doesn’t heal on its own within two weeks. Third, exercise is great for your mental health. Even light exercises like walking release the body’s “feel-good” hormones called endorphins. Focusing on exercise is also a form of mindfulness, which can help calm the mind and reduce stress.
It is safe and healthy for most people in the Dallas area to put on a face mask and take a walk outdoors. Practice physical distancing, avoid touching your face (especially your nose and eyes), and wash your hands when you get home. Many gyms are also offering free workout programs online to help you stay active indoors.
- Eat properly and stay hydrated
Managing your nutrition is a balancing act. You need the right amount and right type of carbohydrates to maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Fill your plate with:
- Non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, tomatoes, and green beans
- Starchy vegetables such as peas and sweet potatoes
- Fruits, like berries and apples
- Beans (black, kidney, lentils, and chickpeas)
- Whole grains, including brown rice and steel-cut oats
Try to avoid:
- Sweets, like candy and cookies
- Chips and salty snacks
- Juice and soda
- Sugary tea
- White bread
- Processed cereals
- White rice
Patients with type 2 diabetes are more prone to dehydration. Insulin challenges lead to extra sugar in the blood, which means your kidneys have to work harder to get rid of it. If your kidneys are overtaxed, you’ll urinate more often and potentially get dehydrated.
Make a habit of sipping sugar-free, caffeine-free beverages throughout the day. Water is the best choice. Minimize alcohol consumption – it’s often full of carbs and can increase dehydration.
- Mind your immunity
While there’s no magic pill to boost immunity, you can make choices each day to improve your health – and thereby improve your immune system.
- Sanitize everyday objects often, including cell phones, tablets, and door handles. These high-touch surfaces can be germ magnets.
- Wash your hands according to the COVID-19 guidelines. Using warm water and soap wash the fronts and backs of the hands for at least 20 seconds. Make sure you also clean under your nails. You can use a spare toothbrush and soap to gently remove germs hiding there.
- Wear a face mask when running errands. This simple act helps protect you from people who may be infected but not displaying symptoms – in some patients, symptoms don’t appear until 14 days after infection. Since the virus can travel through the air, make sure your mask covers your nose and mouth.
You can go in public safely if you are smart about it. Remove your mask before you get back in the car or enter your home to avoid contaminating your environment. If it’s disposable, throw it away. If it’s reusable, seal it in a bag until you can launder it. The same rules apply for gloves, should you choose to wear them.
- Pay attention to your mental health
Social and physical isolation may increase anxiety and depression, particularly in people who are already managing a mental health condition.
People with chronic conditions such as diabetes might be at increased risk for stress during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And many people with diabetes also have depression, due in part to the added responsibilities and restrictions of the disease.
Stay in touch with the people who care about you, especially during the pandemic. While we can’t be together in person right now, we can use technology like video calling to connect with friends and family.
If you are struggling with low mood, anxiety, or unexplained fatigue, request an appointment to discuss your mental health. Nearly all of our mental health care is available via phone or video visits right now – you can get the help you need from home.