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PEP Talk

Gift Ideas and New Year’s Resolutions: “Diabetically” Speaking

The emotional aspects of type 1 diabetes are frequently overlooked.  More often, only the clinical aspects are considered.  Of course, carb-counting, blood sugar testing, exercising and determining the best insulin dosage are all crucial components to having good control.

However, having a healthy attitude and learning how to cope enables us to overcome frustration, anger, burnout, guilt, being overwhelmed and so many other feelings both you and your child may experience.  Although we are expected to be joyful during the holiday season, many of us become more stressed.  In addition to our everyday routine, we add shopping for gifts, wrapping gifts, cooking, having more friends and family gatherings, staying up later than usual, eating more and exercising less and, generally, doing much more than is realistically possible to do well.

Instead of the customary gifts and resolutions, I would like to propose a completely different way to welcome this holiday season.  Here are some suggestions:

1. Give yourself permission to replace less enjoyable activities with activities that are important to you and your family.

2. An abundance of food has become the focal point of the holiday season. Food, unfortunately, became a way to express love.  You and your loved ones can redefine how you express your love. The holidays are not about food, they’re about gathering together with family and friends.  Perhaps you can encourage everyone to play a game, take a walk or do anything else that replaces eating as the primary activity.

3. Save money!  Give each family member a letter that describes why you love them and what you most appreciate about them.

4. Give yourself a gift by creating a list of things for which you are most grateful. The holidays are most joyful and less stressful when we can focus on what we do have and not on what we want to have.

5. Have realistic expectations.  Diabetes is a challenge any day of the year and becomes more of a challenge during the holiday season when children are on their winter break from school and do not have the structure or routine to which they are accustomed.  Therefore, blood sugars could more often be out-of-range. 

6. Think positively.  Focus on the solutions to any problems that may arise rather than obsessing about the problems.

7. Keep it simple.  Over-scheduling holiday activities creates stress.  Do your best to allow down-time for you and your family.

8. Talk and listen.  Sometimes we become so preoccupied with holiday activities that we forget the importance of talking and listening to one another.

9. Forgive.  Things are bound to go wrong.  People will disappoint you, and you may disappoint yourself.  Just keep striving to do the best you can to accept your own imperfections and the imperfections of others.

10. Happy Holidays!

Submitted by:  Ilene M. Vinikoor, D.C.S.W., L.M.F.T.

Ilene has had type 1, complication-free diabetes since 1968 and is an individual, marriage and family therapist.

Give YOURSELF a gift...see tip #4!


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