Living with diabetes blog

Tips to help build resilience and better handle diabetes

By Sara J. Carlson, R.N., C.D.E. February 3, 2016

I've been hearing a lot about the concept of resilience.

Resilience is the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, etc. Characteristics associated with resilience include optimism, an active or adaptable coping style, and the ability to tap into social support.

A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2011 showed that high levels of resilience were significantly related to lower HbA1c levels indicating better glycemic control.

Another study with similar results was published in the British Journal of Health Psychology in 2008. It showed that those with low and moderate resilience levels showed a strong association between rising distress and worsening HbA1c results. Those with high resilience scores didn't show this same association.

Some people are lucky enough to be born with a high level of resilience, but even if you're not one of them, there are things you can do to boost your resilience. The American Psychological Association offers the following 10 suggestions for building resilience:

  • Make connections: Good relationships with close family members, friends or others are important.
  • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable: You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to them. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be better.
  • Accept that change is part of living: Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that can't be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.
  • Move toward your goals: Develop some realistic goals. Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move toward your goals.
  • Take decisive actions: Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.
  • Look for opportunities for self-discovery: People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss.
  • Nurture a positive view of self: Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.
  • Keep things in perspective: Even when facing painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook: An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.
  • Take care of yourself: Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly.

Living with a chronic disease such as diabetes can be stressful and demanding. Arm yourself with the power of resilience.

Best wishes,


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Feb. 03, 2016