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Supportive Strategies for Type 2 Diabetes

Wednesday 14 February 2024
8 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Stress Reduction Techniques

II. Smoking Cessation

III. Physical Therapy Benefits

IV. Diabetes Management During Travel

V. Geriatric Diabetes Care

VI. Wound Care Importance

VII. Conclusion

Living well with Type 2 Diabetes requires more than just following your doctor's orders for medications and diet. A holistic approach that incorporates supportive self-care strategies is essential.

In this article, we'll explore ways to enhance diabetes management through lifestyle techniques that complement your medical treatment plan. We'll review stress reduction techniques, smoking cessation tips, physical therapy benefits, travel tips, wound care, and diabetes care in older adults.

Stress Reduction Techniques

Living with diabetes can be challenging and stressful at times. Monitoring your blood sugar levels, following a diabetes diet plan, exercising, and taking medications require diligence and can feel overwhelming. High stress also causes your body to release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones lead to insulin resistance in your cells, which increases blood sugar levels. {[1}}

The good news is there are effective techniques you can use to lower stress levels and improve your health:

  • Get active: Taking a daily walk, doing yoga, or engaging in any physical activity you enjoy can help relieve stress. Being active also helps manage blood sugar. Start slow and work up to 30 minutes of activity most days.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Meditation, deep breathing exercises, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation can activate the body's relaxation response to counteract stress. Set aside 10-20 minutes daily to calm your mind.
  • Connect with others: Don't isolate yourself. Share your feelings with close family or friends. Join a diabetes support group to connect with others facing similar challenges. Feeling understood can ease stress.
  • Focus on self-care: Make your health a priority. Eat nutritious meals, avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, and do things you find fun and fulfilling. Taking care of yourself will give you strength to manage stress. [1]

The more you practice stress management, the easier it will become. Be patient with yourself and try different approaches until you find what works best. Mental health is just as important as physical health when living with diabetes.

Smoking Cessation

A brown shoe stepping on cigarette

Quitting smoking is a crucial step towards improving your overall health, especially if you have diabetes. Smoking can significantly hinder your body's ability to manage blood sugar levels and control diabetes effectively. [2] Let's take a closer look at why this is the case.

  • Smoking increases insulin resistance: Insulin plays a vital role in helping blood sugar enter cells, where it can be utilized as energy. However, when you smoke, the nicotine in cigarettes alters the cells, causing them to become unresponsive to insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels rise, making it more challenging for your body to control diabetes.
  • Chemicals in cigarettes cause inflammation in your body, which can stop cells from responding to insulin. 
  • Smoking leads to a higher risk of belly fat, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. [2]

Quitting smoking may seem daunting, but the benefits to your diabetes health and overall well-being are well worth the effort. To help you on this journey, here are some practical strategies you can consider:

  • Quitting cold turkey: Set a firm quit date and stick to it. Set a firm quit date and commit to it. Dispose of all cigarettes and avoid smoking areas. While quitting cold turkey may not work for everyone, many individuals have successfully stopped smoking and vaping using this method.
  • Gradually cutting down: If you need more time to quit smoking, you can start by gradually reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke or increasing the time between each cigarette. Although this method may be slower than quitting cold turkey, it can be a helpful starting point for those who need a more gradual approach. 
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): NRT is designed to alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms that arise when you stop smoking or vaping. This can include nicotine patches, gum, oral sprays, inhalers, or lozenges. Many of these products are readily available at pharmacies without a prescription. [3]

Remember, quitting smoking is a personal journey, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's important to find the method that suits you best and seek support from healthcare professionals, friends, and family along the way.

Physical Therapy Benefits

Physical therapy can be a game-changer for individuals with diabetes, offering valuable support in managing their condition. By collaborating with a skilled physical therapist, you gain access to personalized exercise recommendations that are safe and highly effective for your unique needs.

Some of the key benefits of physical therapy for diabetes management include:

  • Improving strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance: A physical therapist will design an exercise program to target areas that need improvement. Strengthening your overall fitness has many benefits – from simplifying daily activities to promoting a healthier heart. 
  • Learning safe ways to stay active: If you are new to exercise or face complications such as neuropathy, a physical therapist will guide you in performing activities safely. If needed, they will teach you modifications that help prevent injuries.
  • Monitoring blood sugar response: Physical therapists understand how activity impacts blood glucose levels. They'll design a safe, personalized exercise program to help you control and lower your blood sugar.
  • Reducing risk of complications: Keeping active with diabetes helps prevent issues like cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, and foot problems. [4]

The right type and amount of physical activity is important for diabetes. Working with a knowledgeable physical therapist gives you the specialized guidance to manage your condition and improve your health through exercise.

Diabetes Management During Travel

Person at airport window holding a suitcase

Whether you're going on a weekend getaway or a longer vacation, traveling with diabetes doesn't have to limit your fun. With some extra preparation and planning, you can ensure diabetes doesn't get in the way of a great trip.

  • Insulin storage: Insulin is temperature sensitive, so proper storage is key. If going somewhere hot, keep it in an insulated cooling bag. If going somewhere cold, keep it close to your body heat.
  • Talk to your doctor: Before your trip, having a conversation with your doctor is important. They can help you adjust your medication schedule and dosages to accommodate time zone changes and disruptions to your routine.
  • Pack extra supplies: It's always wise to pack more diabetes supplies than you think you'll need. This includes extra medications, syringes, needles, and insulin pens. If you're travelling westward, keep in mind that your travel day will be longer, potentially leading to a time change of more than two hours. In these cases, you may require additional units of short-acting insulin.
  • Manage your blood sugar levels: Traveling can disrupt your usual routine and impact your blood sugar levels. Monitoring your sugar levels regularly and adjusting your medications as needed is crucial. Be mindful of changes in mealtimes, activity, and stress levels, as they can all influence your blood sugar.
  • Carry a medical ID: Carrying a medical ID can be beneficial when traveling with syringes and needles, especially in certain countries where they may raise concerns or questions. [5]

Geriatric Diabetes Care

Managing diabetes as an older adult presents unique challenges, but with the right support, you can continue to live well. A key factor is managing other health conditions that often accompany aging alongside diabetes, like cognitive decline or heart disease. [6] While this can complicate your care, your healthcare team is there to help.

Your care team, including your doctor, specialists, diabetes educator, nutritionist, and social worker, will work together to tailor a care plan that meets your needs. Here are some of the ways they can support you:

  • At Home Support: Arranging transportation, meal delivery, home health aides, and other services to help you stay independent and safe in your own home.
  • Medication Management: Reviewing all your medications to ensure they work well together and avoid potentially dangerous interactions.
  • Fall Prevention: Addressing unsteady blood sugars or vision changes that may increase your risk of falls through home modifications and assistive devices.
  • Access to Care: Helping you find affordable medications, supplies, healthy foods, and transportation. [6]

Wound Care Importance

Doctor dressing diabetic toe wound

It’s crucial to proactively take care of any wounds if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can damage your nerves and blood vessels, making injuries and infections more likely and harder to heal. However, consistent wound care can prevent or catch diabetes-related wound problems early. [7]

To ensure proper wound healing, there are steps you can take at home:

  • Promptly find and treat cuts, scrapes, and wounds to prevent any complications from arising.
  • Relieve pressure from the affected area to promote healing and prevent further damage.
  • Keep the wound clean and covered, as this helps to reduce the risk of infection. [7]

Neglecting adequate wound care can lead to serious complications:

  • Diabetic foot ulcers: If left untreated, diabetic foot wounds can progress into ulcers that may take over three months to heal. Failing to provide proper care can even result in the loss of a limb.
  • Gangrene: If an infection is left untreated for too long, it can cause surrounding tissues to die, resulting in gangrene.
  • Diabetic osteomyelitis: Infected wounds can spread to the bones, causing parts of the bones to die. Early detection and treatment are crucial in effectively managing diabetic osteomyelitis. [7]


Managing type 2 diabetes involves more than just controlling blood sugar levels. Creating a comprehensive approach that caters to your holistic well-being is crucial. This means incorporating supportive strategies that reduce stress, promote healthy habits, enable safe travel, and meet other individual needs.

If you have any questions about type 2 diabetes, visit our dedicated diabetes blog for answers.

The content provided in this article is based on thorough research and, in some cases, reviewed by a medical professional. Our goal for the information is to provide helpful, general health information. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.