Coping with your fear of hypoglycaemia

You may have used the tips and advices we gave when you recognized your fear of hypoglycaemia and your excessive safety behaviours.
In case you forgot them, you can click on this link, to Worrying about low blood sugar.

If you want to work on limiting the excessive safety behaviours yourself, you could make a so called ‘’safety ladder’’. By means of this ladder you will be able to make a hierarchy of your fears and safety behaviour, and to take a first step in changing your behaviour.

Before trying to make this ladder and changing your behaviour, it is good to think about the purpose of trying. Why would you change your behaviour? And what will it do for you?

One of the reasons of changing your safety behaviours is that we hope you will be able to broaden your comfort zone.
When you take a look at this picture, you can see your comfort zone in green. This is the ‘so called zone’ that you feel comfortable in. With your safety behaviours you will make yourself feel safe and as comfortable as possible. However, this means that you ‘offer’ some freedom and flexibility. The more safety behaviours you perform, the more safe you will feel. But the more anxious you will feel when you are outside of your comfort zone.

In the picture you see an example of someone who feels comfortable in his comfort zone performing his personal safety behaviours: staying at home, frequently checking blood glucose, or always being in the presence of others.
When this person is not able to perform (all) his safety behaviours he will need to step outside of his comfort zone. Which, of course, feels anxious and uncomfortable. And the more he stays in his comfort zone, the less comfortable he feels when having to step outside his comfort zone.
In the example you see ‘’sleeping alone in a hotel’’. That would be described as his worst nightmare: not having others around, and going to bed alone would be the most frightening thing he could imagine.
You’ll probably understand that his anxiety would be extreme, when he would be forced to do this. And he would probably quickly return to his comfort zone, to never step out of it again J

When trying to reduce anxiety it is important that you will try to do it slowly and stepwise.
That is what the ‘’safety behaviours ladder’’ is for!

Below, you find an example of such a ladder. For this person, not eating a midnight snack (and thus having ‘’lower’’ blood sugar in the night) would be the most frightening thing to do. That would not be a very wise first step.
However, this person thought of a first step: ‘’Not unnecessarily checking blood glucose when feeling ok and relaxed, and his partner being around…’’ That step would make him only feel slightly uncomfortable, but would certainly not be his worst case scenario.
This would be something he could start to practice. First telling his partner about it (for emotional support and help!), and then starting to ‘’not measure blood glucose’’ under these specific conditions.

Question: try to think of a first step on your ‘’safety behaviour ladder’’.
Which safety behaviour would you be able to let go of, under specific conditions, and only feeling slightly uncomfortable?
Would it be one less measurement of glucose? Not eating a carb snack? Injecting a little more insulin? Going out/doing physical exercise?
Write down the specific behaviour, and discuss it with at least one person. Try to perform the behaviour a few times.