The Importance of Self-Care for Diabetes Management

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You are the key to successfully managing diabetes!

Did you know the key to successfully manage diabetes is you? But you don’t have to figure it out alone. Participating in diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) can help you improve your diabetes management skills in seven key areas.

If you have diabetes, you know that managing it day to day can take time and practice. Even when you have a daily routine down, life happens and can knock you off your game. And when it does, you’ll want to make sure you have the tools, resources, and skills to get back on track. That’s why participating in DSMES is an important part of learning how to live with diabetes.

Learning 7 Self-Care Behaviors

DSMES services have been shown to help people with diabetes lose weight (if needed) and improve A1C levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. It can even help reduce the risk of diabetes complications and hospitalizations. Since diabetes is managed mainly by the person who has it, the focus of DSMES is to help people with diabetes develop the skills they need to self-manage their diabetes. You will learn seven key areas of self-care to help you live well with diabetes.

Healthy coping

Your emotional well-being plays an important role in your self-care. Negative thoughts and feelings can affect how well you take care of yourself. Healthy coping can help you manage the emotional side of diabetes. This key area of self-care helps you recognize negative emotions and how to take steps to reduce the impact they may have on managing diabetes. Joining a peer support group can be a great way to connect and share stories from daily management to mental health. And remember, your doctor or diabetes care and education specialist is also there to support you. Talk to them about your experiences, concerns, or any questions you may have about managing diabetes. Learn more by watching this video on healthy coping.

Healthy eating

If you have diabetes, you know that eating well is key to managing your blood sugar. But that doesn’t mean always giving up your favorite meals, restaurants, or dessert. Work with a diabetes care and education specialist to learn about the foods you eat and how they affect your diabetes management. They’ll help you create a healthy eating plan that’s specific to your health needs, lifestyle, beliefs, taste, and culture. Learn more by watching this video on healthy eating.

Being active

Being active is one of the most powerful tools for managing diabetes. Physical activity helps control blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of developing diabetes complications. You’ll learn that being active can include all the ways you move your body and decrease the time you spend sitting. Being active doesn’t have to mean spending hours at a gym. Make it fun! Choose an activity you enjoy like yoga, bike riding, dancing, or playing with your kids. Learn more by watching this video on being active.

Taking medicine

For many people with diabetes, taking medicine is an important part of diabetes management. There are several types of diabetes medicine, and they all work in different ways. Understanding your plan is important so that you can take your medicines the right way and at the right time. And remember to talk to your doctor about any concerns or side effects you may have. Learn more by watching this video on taking medicine.


When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, your doctor will give you a target blood sugar range that’s best for you. The only way to know you are meeting that target range is by monitoring your blood sugar throughout the day, every day. This helps you understand how your body responds to the foods you eat, medicine, stress, and exercise.

When you participate in DSMES, you’ll work with a diabetes care and education specialist to learn:

  • How to use a blood sugar meter.
  • When to check your blood sugar.
  • How to record your results.
  • What the numbers mean.
  • What to do when your numbers are out of your target range.

Learning how to monitor your blood sugar helps you make the adjustments you need to successfully manage diabetes. Learn more by watching this video on monitoring your blood sugar.

Problem solving

Even with the best diabetes management plan, unexpected events can occur. Because things can change all the time with diabetes, learning problem solving skills can help you prepare for the unexpected. You’ll be able to recognize and react to any changes or problems that may come up, like getting sick, starting a new work schedule, or going on vacation. Learn more by watching this video on solving problems.

Lowering risks

Having diabetes puts you at risk for developing other health problems like heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and vision loss. Working with a diabetes care and education specialist can help you understand why these complications happen and how they can be avoided. Lowering your risks means learning health behaviors that prevent or delay diabetes complications and improve overall health. Learn more by watching this video on lowering risks.

You Are the Key

Remember, you are the key because the more you know, the better you can manage diabetes. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or just need a refresher, ask your doctor for a referral to DSMES. Gaining the skills and tools for better health management can help you live longer and healthier with diabetes.