More about negative emotions

Sometimes, negative emotions are not directly related to blood sugar, but more indirectly related to diabetes: people may be dissatisfied with their self-management, feel frustrated/guilty about high/low blood sugar, experience a lack of understanding in people around them. And of course: having diabetes is no fun. Having negative emotions about diabetes every now and then, is a normal and healthy response.
However, when emotions about diabetes are too negative, it is good to acknowledge that, and to try to take some action.
If you want to learn more about negative emotions related to diabetes, we have more information for you. In the menu item “Managing your Emotions” you will find various texts on specific negative emotions related to diabetes, such as low mood/depression, feeling anxious about hypo’s, feeling anxious about complications, feeling stressed or tired, feeling burned out by your diabetes. Just take a look in our ‘’online library’’ and learn more about negative emotions in diabetes.

Using a pedometer

A pedometer is an inexpensive tool that counts your steps when you clip it to your belt or waistband. You can buy one at most athletic stores or you can order one online.

Use It Regularly

At the end of each day, check your pedometer and record your steps for the day.

Make sure you reset it to “0” the next morning before clipping it on.

Keeping a record of your steps can help you gauge how much activity you are getting or how far you are walking each day.

It also gives you a starting point to help you set goals. You can gradually increase your steps or the minutes you walk each day from there.

For example, let’s say you find that you usually take around 3,500 steps during the day after wearing your pedometer for a week. You can try to increase your daily average by 500 steps every of couple weeks until you hit 7,500 steps per day. You can go even higher than this if you want.

Remember, the more active you are, the more benefits you’ll see from exercise.


Walking is a great way to get fit.

Here are some advantages of walking for exercise:

  • It doesn’t require a gym membership or fancy equipment – it’s totally free!
  • It’s an easy place to start since most of us do it every day – there’s no learning curve!
  • It has been shown to improve blood pressure, cholesterol, stress, and depression.
  • It can help to promote weight loss and reduce your risk for other chronic diseases like heart disease and dementia.
  • It is enjoyable and something you can do with others.
  • It is a safe and generally risk-free form of physical activity.
  • It is a form of exercise that is easy to keep up – there are lots of places you can do it!


If you’re not used to being active, you can start with 10 minutes of walking each day and build as your fitness improves.

When you begin, find a comfortable pace and try to add about three to five minutes to your daily walking time each week. A good goal to shoot for is at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, five days a week.

Start out by keeping track of how much you currently walk for a few days. Use a pedometer or a watch to determine how many minutes of walking you already do or how many steps you take.

What’s important is that you take it one day at a time and build up your walking stamina at a pace that’s comfortable for you.


Quick Tips for Walkers

  • Warm up first by walking in place or start out walking at a slower pace than normal for 3-5 minutes.
  • Stretch for 5-10 minutes after you warm up or after your walk to help you stay more flexible.
  • Keep good posture. Gaze forward, not down at the ground, with your chin level and head up.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking throughout the day before you begin your walk.
  • Wear shoes designed for walking or exercise for greater comfort and to prevent injuries.


Once you are used to your walking routine, don’t be afraid to take it to the next level. Here are some ways you can change up your walking routine to keep improving your fitness:

  • Pick up your speed for short intervals throughout your walk to get your heart rate up.
  • Increase the distance of your walks to build endurance.
  • Walk both faster and farther, and add some hills to your workout.
  • Switch up your routine. Do a faster, shorter walk some days and longer brisk walk other days.
  • Try going with a friend some days and bring music for others.

Injury free exercising – 12 tips

Here are a few simple things you can do to help prevent injuries, dehydration, and hypoglycemia when exercising:

  1. Talk to your doctor about which activities are safest for you. Your doctor’s advice will depend on the condition of your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, feet, and nervous system. Still, many people with diabetes can do the same activities as someone without diabetes.
  2. Warm up for 5 minutes before starting to exercise and cool down for 5 minutes after. Your warm up or cool down should be a lower intensity than the rest of your time exercising. This helps get your blood flowing and warms up your joints.
  3. Avoid doing activity in extremely hot or cold temperatures. Choose indoor options when the weather is extreme.
  4. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity to stay hydrated.
  5. If you feel a low coming on, be ready to test for it and treat it. Always carry a source of carbohydrate with you so you’ll be ready to treat low blood glucose. This is especially important if you are on insulin and have type 1 diabetes.
  6. If exercising for an extended period (more than an hour or two), you may want to have a sports drink that provides carbohydrates. Be careful to check the nutrition facts though, you may need to water down the drink so that you don’t have too much, which can cause your blood glucose to spike.
  7. Wear a medical identification bracelet, necklace, or a medical ID tag that identifies you as someone with diabetes in case of emergency, and carry a cell phone with you in case you need to call someone for assistance.
  8. Activities should be energizing but not overly difficult. Use the “talk test” to make sure you are not pushing yourself too hard. If you become short of breath and you can’t talk, then slow down. This is most important when you are just starting to increase the activity in your routine. As you become fit, you’ll be able to exercise at a higher intensity and chat with others while you do it.
  9. Take care of your feet by wearing shoes and clean socks that fit you well.
  10. You should also check inside your shoes before wearing them. Socks that are made out of a material that reduces friction and pulls moisture away from your skin can also help protect your feet.
  11. Carefully inspect your feet before and after activity for blisters, redness, or other signs of irritation. Talk to your doctor if you have a foot injury or a non-healing blister, cut, or sore.
  12. Stop doing an activity if you feel any pain, shortness of breath, or light-headedness. Talk to your doctor about any unusual symptoms that you experience.

Exercising with complications

If you want to know more about exercising safely with specific diabetes complications, take a look at the list below.

This can serve as a guide to what types of activity might work for you.

Heart Disease

Be careful with: Very strenuous activity, heavy lifting or straining, isometric exercises, exercise in extreme heat or cold.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate activity such as walking, daily chores, gardening, fishing. Moderate dynamic lifting, stretching. Activity in moderate climate.


High Blood Pressure

Be careful with: Very strenuous activity, heavy lifting or straining and isometric exercise.

Beneficial Activities: Most moderate activity such as walking, moderate lifting, weight lifting with light weights and high repetitions, stretching.



Be careful with: Strenuous activity.

Beneficial Activities: Light to moderate daily activities such as walking, light household chores, gardening, and water exercise.


Peripheral Neuropathy

Be careful with: High-impact, strenuous, or prolonged weight-bearing activities such as walking a long distance, running on a treadmill, jumping/hopping, exercise in heat or cold, weight-bearing exercise when you have a foot injury, open sore, or ulcer.

Beneficial Activities: Light to moderate daily activities, exercise in a moderate climate, moderate weight-bearing activities that are low-impact (e.g. walking, cycling, swimming, chair exercises). Moderate weight-bearing exercises like walking are okay once foot ulcers have healed.

Those with peripheral neuropathy need to have appropriate footwear and should check their feet every day.


Autonomic Neuropathy

Be careful with: Exercise in extreme heat where dehydration can occur, activities requiring rapid changes in movement that may result in fainting. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program – you may need an exercise stress test.

Beneficial Activities: Mild to moderate aerobic activities and resistance training, but increase the length of time you exercise slowly. Follow your doctor’s recommendations.



Be careful with: Strenuous exercise, activities that require heavy lifting and straining, breath holding while lifting or pushing, isometric exercise, high-impact activities that cause jarring, head-down activities.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate activities that are low impact (e.g. walking, cycling, water exercise), moderate daily chores that do not involve heavy lifting, straining, or the head to be lower than the waist.


Peripheral Vascular Disease

Be careful with: High-Impact activities.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate walking (may do intermittent exercise with periods of walking followed by periods of rest), non-weight-bearing exercise: swimming cycling, chair exercises.


Osteoporosis or arthritis

Be careful with: High-Impact activities.

Beneficial Activities: Moderate daily activities, walking, water exercises, resistance exercise (e.g. light lifting activities), stretching

Diabetes and exercise: When to monitor your blood sugar

Exercise is an important part of any diabetes treatment plan. To avoid potential problems, check your blood sugar before, during and after exercise.

Diabetes and exercise go hand in hand, at least when it comes to managing your diabetes. Exercise can help you improve your blood sugar control, as well as boost your overall fitness and reduce your risk of heart disease and nerve damage.

Diabetes and exercise pose unique challenges, too. Remember to track your blood sugar before, during and after exercise. Your records will reveal how your body responds to exercise — and help you prevent potentially dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.

Before exercise: Check your blood sugar before your workout

If you’re taking insulin or medications that can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), test your blood sugar 30 minutes before exercising and again immediately before exercising. This will help you determine if your blood sugar level is stable, rising or falling and if it’s safe to exercise.

Consider these general guidelines relative to your blood sugar level — measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

  • Lower than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L): Your blood sugar may be too low to exercise safely. Eat a small carbohydrate-containing snack, such as fruit or crackers, before you begin your workout.
  • 100 to 250 mg/dL (5.6 to 13.9 mmol/L):  You’re good to go. For most people, this is a safe pre-exercise blood sugar range.
  • 250 mg/dL (13.9 mmol/L) or higher: This is a caution zone. Before exercising, test your urine for ketones — substances made when your body breaks down fat for energy. Excess ketones indicate that your body doesn’t have enough insulin to control your blood sugar. If you exercise when you have a high level of ketones, you risk ketoacidosis — a serious complication of diabetes that needs immediate treatment. Instead, wait to exercise until your test kit indicates a low level of ketones in your urine.
  • 300 mg/dL (16.7 mmol/L) or higher.: Your blood sugar may be too high to exercise safely, putting you at risk of ketoacidosis. Postpone your workout until your blood sugar drops to a safe pre-exercise range.

Before you start exercising speak to your doctor

Before jumping into a fitness program, get your doctor’s OK to exercise — especially if you’ve been inactive. Discuss with your doctor which activities you’re contemplating and the best time to exercise, as well as the potential impact of medications on your blood sugar as you become more active.

During your visit:

  • Tell your provider if you have any pain in your chest.
  • Talk with your provider about joint or bone problems that make it difficult for you to exercise.
  • Ask about how increasing your activity level might impact any medicines you take for diabetes, blood pressure, and/or heart conditions.
  • Ask what exercises are safe for you and what you need to avoid.
  • Ask if there are times when you should avoid activity.

Your health care provider should help support you in your efforts to become more active.
If you have other health conditions besides diabetes, such as heart disease, issues with your vision/eyes (retinopathy), or nerve problems (neuropathy), you may have some limitations when it comes to physical activity. Your doctor can tell you what exercises are best for you and what activities to avoid.

Strategies to deal with negative emotions

You have to deal with diabetes every day for the whole day. This can impact your emotional well-being, stress and negative emotions can even affect your blood glucose control. There are some strategies that can help you deal with negative emotions, to communicate with your loved ones, and to find support and any kind of help you may need.

  1. Beating the Winter Blues by Lynne Spevack, LCSW
  2. Coping With Diabetes Over Time Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, BC-ADM, CDE, and Kristina Humphries, MD
  3. Creating New Holiday Traditions by Robert Taibbi, LCSW
  4. Demystifying Motivation by Rita Milios, LCSW
  5. Depression by Paula M. Trief, PhD
  6. Diabetes and Your Marriage by Paula M. Trief, PhD
  7. Diabetes Blogs by Allison Blass
  8. Eight Tips For Managing Diabetes Distress by Lawrence Fisher, PhD
  9. Handling Holiday Stress by Linda Wasmer Andrews
  10. Learning Self-Compassion by Nicola J. Davies, PhD
  11. Navigating Mental Health Care by Joseph B. Nelson, MA, LP
  12. Relaxation Techniques for Stressful Times by Linda Wasmer Andrews
  13. Stress: Finding Peace Amid the Storm by Laura Hieronymus, MSEd, APRN, BC-ADM, CDE, and Patti Geil, MS, RD, CDE
  14. Taking a Zen Approach to Diabetes by Glenn M. Callaghan, PhD
  15. The Importance of Role Models by Amy Mercer
  16. The Secret to Solving Relationship Problems by Robert Taibbi, LCSW
  17. Updating Your Coping Skills by Reji Mathew, PhD
  18. Whose Diabetes Is It, Anyway? by Scott Coulter, LSW
  19. Yoga by Susan Shaw