Without a doubt, for people who are diagnosed with chronic illnesses such as Type I diabetes, maintaining a positive frame of mind can be a daunting task. Patients are forced to deal with uncertainties, inconvenience and pain that comes with the illness.
Dealing with diabetes is often over-complicated and deemed as a very troublesome thing to do. However it need not necessarily be that way!
What really separates a person whom is suffering with diabetes and someone whom is living with diabetes is the way they cope with the illness itself.
Based on a research article published in 2004 by Marit Graue from the Haukeland University Hospital, it was concluded that poor blood sugar level control –denoted by Metabolic control/Hba1c in the research article– and dissatisfaction of life with regards to diabetes was significantly in relation with emotion-focused coping styles. Whereas, better blood sugar level control in patients and greater satisfaction of life was significantly related to active coping style of the disease.
So what exactly is the difference between emotional-focused coping style and active coping style?
Emotional-focused coping style VS Active Coping style
The term “coping style” in this context generally specifies a habitual strategy/way that patients use to cope with stress factors caused by the illness. And this coping style is categorized into 2 factors: Emotional focused and Active coping styles
Emotional-focused coping style refers to a behavioral and mental disengagement such as giving up, refusal to input any effort towards the problem or even avoidance of the problem itself through means such as self-distraction. Sometimes, in extreme cases, it can be seen as hostility approaches such as aggressive coping.
Active Coping style, on the other hand, indicates a “problem solving” approach towards the problem. Such as acknowledgement of the illness, forging a plan to overcoming the problem and directing effort towards rational management of the problem such as seeking social support and getting advice from someone about what to do. Individuals from this category would normally find content in life.
Representation of Active coping style (left) and Emotional-Focused coping style (right)
You should know which category you ideally want to fall under.
How can I induce “Active Coping Style” of the disease in my life?
For the Individual
1) Be Active!
Exercising can be seen as an indicative for which you have acknowledged the disease and is willing take action and do something about it.
Everyone knows exercise is important, but it can be especially important for individuals with diabetes. It helps you to control your blood glucose (sugar) level and also prevent long term complications.
When a type I diabetic individual is active, his/her cells becomes more sensitive to Insulin. This enables the hormone to work more efficiently when taken in externally. Furthermore, during exercise, your cells is also able to remove glucose from the blood by using a mechanism separate from insulin during exercise.
With the reduction of blood glucose level in your body, you may then be able to take in less insulin/diabetic pills.
The American Diabetes Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity to vigorous aerobic exercise for 5 days per week. This works out to be 150 minutes per week
Such exercises can be something as simple as jogging, playing basketball or even tennis!
Hence, if you think that you can’t find 30 minutes, you can portion the exercise into chunks—10 minutes here and there.
Do consult your doctor before embarking on a fitness regime.
2) Seek Help!
There is never a need to suffer in silence and there is definitely no shame into seeking help from others.
There are many non-profitable organizations established all around the world with the common vision of bringing in individuals and families from all walks of life with diabetes together to create an environment that supports and empathizes with the daily struggles of living with diabetes.
One such organization would be the “TOUCH Diabetes Support” group based in Singapore:
It is a charitable organization formed in 1992 with the goal to reach out to people living with insulin-treated diabetes. It recognizes that everyone is equal and Diabetes is not a disability.
Since its inception, it has organized many activities to achieve that. Such as Zumba Fitness, Public Awareness events and also offering certification for Basic Diabetes Education.
Want to find out more? Go to http://www.diabetessupport.org.sg/
For the family/loved ones
1) Social Support:
Diabetes is a hard disease to handle alone. On top of handling other things in life, a diabetic individual is subjected to limited choices of food, constant weight control and also daily intake of medication. It is no wonder that he/she can easily feel stressed out and depressed.
The social support of a family can make a enormous difference into how well your love one copes with diabetes.
- Understanding your loved one by understanding Diabetes – We have no clue how is it like to live with diabetes, to be limited to many decisions in life and also to be on permanent medication. As such, the least we can do as caregivers is to be informed about the illness through means such as taking classes/reading articles off the internet. That way, we will be more likely to understand their worries, concerns and also reasoning behind their behavior when they sometimes get irritated at us.
- Communication – What feels like support to us may not be the kind of support they are looking for. As much as we don’t know how is it like to live with diabetes. They also have no idea what it’s like to live with, love and watch someone we care about living with diabetes. Diabetes affect you, the caregivers, as well too. As such, don’t read minds. Communicate.
2) Practical Support:
Practical supports of family members/loved ones is vital for ensuring that the condition of the diabetic individual doesn’t get worse and also that he is living his life in the most optimal condition available to him.
Practical supports can be something as simple as:
- Helping them to make/get doctor’s appointment regularly
- Reminding them to check their blood sugar levels regularly
- Formulate a plan for handling emergencies with relations to diabetes
- Helping them make good food choices so as to control their blood sugar level
- Accompanying them to a diabetes support group
In the next post, we will be discussing new cures and treatment with regards to Type I diabetes.
Reader’s Digest. 2013. Tips for Helping a Person With Diabetes. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/tips-for-helping-a-person-with-diabetes/. [Accessed 15 November 15]
Diabetes Support. 2005. TOUCH Diabetes Support. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.diabetessupport.org.sg/. [Accessed 15 November 15].
Endocrine Web. 1997. Type 1 Diabetes and Exercise. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/type-1-diabetes-exercise. [Accessed 15 November 15].
Marit, Graue, 2004. The coping styles of adolescents with type 1 diabetes are associated with degree of metabolic control [Online]. 1313-7, 6. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15161781[Accessed 15 November 2015]
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