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Diabetes awareness month and managing stress

For 32-year-old Cory Manson, managing his type one diabetes has presented some new challenges during 2020.

“Like most people, I live a busy and pretty full life. On top of that it can be a challenge to continuously be checking sugar levels. Technology is starting to help with new monitors and apps, as there is always a need to monitor your condition.”

Cory was diagnosed at 14 years old, making him one of the more than 20,000 people in New Zealand living with type 1 diabetes (over 200,000 people in New Zealand have diabetes).

He manages his diabetes through measuring his blood glucose level, which in the past was done by taking blood from the finger and testing several times a day. He is now trialling a device that takes some of the stress away, by monitoring his blood glucose constantly, and sending alerts to his phone when glucose levels are no longer in the safe range.

When glucose levels are too high, people with Diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to correct levels back into a safe range. That is on top of baseline injections for daily stability and adjustments for food, exercise and stress.

New research from Diabetes NZ has found that 81 percent of Kiwis living with diabetes have experienced diabetes distress, which is the emotional burden of living with, and managing the 24/7 condition.

The report states that getting better at managing the stress of living with diabetes can help physical health (by lowering blood sugar levels) and improve emotional and mental health.

Cory says reducing stress helps him both physically and emotionally to feel better. Reducing stress levels does help manage his condition, but at the same time high levels of management can actually snowball and increase stress levels.

“Coming up with a plan to reduce stress can actually become quite stressful in itself. What I find works is simplifying how I reduce stress. It doesn’t need to be overthought and for me it usually comes in the form of a walk around the block or getting outside and sitting down for a few minutes – trying to keep it easy.”

“When I’m feeling under pressure it is often taking a few steps out of the office and thinking about what it's going to be like in a few days or weeks, particularly with summer coming up.”

Diabetes NZ also found 45 percent of Kiwis with diabetes experienced more ‘diabetes distress’ as a result of COVID-19.

“I guess like all kiwis I worried about how bad it would get here, but for me there were benefits from working from home. It meant I was able to be a bit more flexible and reimagine how I worked - to include more breaks so I could get out and take a few moments for myself.”

“I wanted to travel home, out of Auckland, for the lockdown but my family were involved in a cluster. But during those first few weeks we were really connected over the phone, more so than usual which was helpful for everyone.”

To learn more about diabetes, including about Diabetes Action Month or to view Diabetes NZ’s new downloadable resource on diabetes distress, visit the website.

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