November is National Diabetes Month and while many nurses know the exceptional challenges their patients with diabetes face, some know the obstacles personally.

As a nurse with diabetes, taking care of yourself is extremely important. And while managing diabetes is 24/7, the holiday season can be especially difficult. Nurses have seen patients go through all the ups and downs of this disease including trying to keep blood sugar levels within range when faced with holiday dinners and parties. Add some pressure from family and friends (both well-meaning and some that’s just uninformed) to “just try a little” of each and every buffet dish and getting through the holidays while trying to manage a disease that varies based so much on food is exhausting.

Both the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recognize this month with tips and information to keep yourself healthy. But as a nurse, you can share your experiences to help your patients and sometimes even learn from what they say.

The holidays make things difficult. You’ve got additional responsibilities – from cooking to gift buying to volunteering to hosting – and all the changes those new tasks bring about. Staying with your normal routine can help, but that’s not always possible. Planning ahead and developing strategies will help keep you on an even keel.

If you shop for gifts, you often have to manage that with your normal work and family duties. And if your time to get all that done hits during a mealtime, you have to be prepared and think ahead. Are you going to grab something quick, eat at a restaurant, or pack something to bring?<

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National Diabetes Month - An Opportunity for Awareness
And what about all that holiday food? You probably know what you can and cannot have, but it helps to plan ahead. Think about the coming weeks and what you might consider worth splurging on. Is it your neighbor's cheesecake? Your coworker's lobster bisque? Planning can help you make adjustments around things you don't normally eat. Running around through all those errands, parties, and visits can also cause you to get dehydrated faster than normal, so pack a water bottle or flavored seltzer for the car and make sure you just keep sipping. If work gets crazier, the one thing you can't neglect is your own health. Make sure you stop to check your blood sugar and assess how your body is feeling periodically throughout the day – even on those crazy days. Try to get enough rest, if not enough outright good sleep. Often in short supply, a good night's sleep isn't always going to be possible. Sometimes it's worth it (a special celebration) and sometimes it just can't be avoided (overtime), so making careful calculations to at least get some rest when logging seven or eight hours is not in the cards will help your body stay on track. Lastly, as spirited as they are, the holidays cause extra pressure for most of us and downright sadness and melancholy for some. Try to keep stress at bay by being aware of it and trying out some things you find relaxing when you can. Listen to soothing music or a great podcast during all that driving around from store to store. Catch up on your favorite show while you are marathon cooking. Spend some time outside just to ejoy the sunchine and fresh air. Move as much as you can.
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When you find some tactics that work to help you control your diabetes during the holidays, keep with them. Not all things work for all people, so if your approach works for your own life, your holiday season will be that much healthier.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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