Understand Diabetes Burnout

Feeling too tired and empty to manage your diabetes is called diabetes burnout. Living with diabetes and managing your condition is a lot of work — it is a job that never ends. At times this job can feel too big, too long, and too hard and you may wish you could get a break.

Diabetes burnout is common because of the many tasks that you need to repeat over and over again such as checking your blood sugar, taking your diabetes medicine, and timing your food.

Learn the signs of diabetes burnout and how you can prevent it.

Signs of Diabetes Burnout

You might have diabetes burnout if you have the signs below:

  • You lower your diabetes care
  • You feel alone
  • You have trouble getting support
  • You feel like the only one dealing with diabetes
  • You feel guilty or blamed
  • You feel like you are being watched by others
  • You feel angry or upset that your diabetes control is not perfect
  • You feel like giving up
  • Your behaviour is unsafe for your diabetes
  • You avoid trying to control your diabetes
  • You stop taking your diabetes medicine
  • You stop listening to your doctor

Prevent Diabetes Burnout

There are many ways to prevent or deal with diabetes burnout.

  • Accept and name how you feel. For example, “I am really tired of managing my diabetes”, or “I feel overwhelmed by my diabetes”. It is okay to feel this way. Allow yourself to feel this way. State how you are feeling without trying to change it. Once you accept how you are feeling, you will be able to move through the feelings more easily.
  • Do something every day for yourself that does not involve your diabetes. This will allow you to feel cared for. For example, connect with a friend, have quiet time with a cup of tea or go for a nice walk in nature. Find something just for you and make time for it. Do this activity a few minutes a day to make a difference.
  • Practice self-compassion. For example, it helps to tell yourself, “Today, I am going to believe that doing my best is enough.” Learn more about self-compassion below.
  • Be kind to yourself. Do not judge or be critical of yourself. Ask yourself, “What advice would I give to a good friend who was feeling this way?”
  • View your diabetes as part of being human. Remind yourself that everyone suffers. This way you won’t feel as alone.
  • Focus on the present moment. Do not think bad thoughts. Notice when your thoughts are turning into worries and fears. When this happens, think about putting those thoughts away in a box and focus back on the present moment.
  • Remind yourself that diabetes is something that many people deal with. You are not alone.
A person stands outside and smiles with their eyes closed. They have short brown hair and facial hair. There are green trees behind them.
A person walks along a paved path. They wear a yellow shirt and black leggings. Green bushes and trees line either side of the path.

Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion means you have concern and empathy for yourself. Self-compassion helps you:

  • feel better about your diabetes
  • get control of your emotions again
  • feel more hopeful
  • be warm and understanding toward yourself when you do not feel “good enough”

For example, when your blood sugar level gets too high you might feel shocked or angry. Use self-compassion to notice your feelings and remind yourself you are doing a good job most of the time. Feeling shocked and angry are very common feelings when you are living with diabetes. It will get easier to notice these feelings over time so you can practice self-compassion instead.

Diabetes is not a weakness. Diabetes is also not a sign that you have done something wrong. Practice self-compassion to replace your self-blame. Understand that each person has their own health problems – yours is diabetes. It is a disease that you need to manage.

Find out how self-compassionate you are »

Access The Mindful Self Compassion Workbook »