Posted 12/12/2016

The many stresses of the holiday season can contribute to illness and lowered blood sugar, causing those with diabetes to take special care during December.

Suzanne Seeley, Coordinator of the Nutrition Department at Murray-Calloway County Hospital, says there is a clear link between stress and illness, especially when it comes to people with diabetes. In December, people become worried about picking out the right gifts, being able to afford gifts at all, making the right food choices and reflecting on the past year.

“People with diabetes should do what they can to reduce their stress of the holidays, it will make managing their diabetes much easier. When all the added stress starts to stack up, it’s easy to forget the day-to-day ways we manage and regulate our diabetes,” she said.

Seeley provided several tips for reducing holiday stress:

• Simplify your holiday: Try not to take on extra duties or tasks. Ask someone to share the work of preparing the family holiday meal or shopping.

• Plan ahead: Stay organized and plan for activities, as well as “days off”. Make sure you plan days with nothing scheduled. Remember you do not have to accept every holiday invitation. Choose the event you most want to attend. Overestimate your time, rather than underestimate so you will avoid feeling rushed.

• Give to others: Assist at a Soup Kitchen. Visit someone who is sick or bereaved, or take a treat to your local police or fire station. Doing good deeds for others makes us feel good. It reduces our feelings of stress.

• Focus on friends and family instead of food: Try to find activities with friends and family that do not surround food, such as games. Prepare dishes that are “diabetes-friendly”. Don’t arrive at social events hungry. You will overeat.

• Lower your expectations: Don’t focus on finding the “perfect” gift or planning the “perfect” party. Focus on the spending quality time with friends and family instead.

• Travel smart: Take extra medications and supplies with you (three to four times as much if traveling to areas where medical resources are limited). Make sure your medications and supplies are in a carry-on bag and with you at all times. Carry a letter and prescription from your health care provider outlining your treatment for your diabetes.