Trying for type 2 remission and staying in it can be emotionally tough
Remission offers many people living with type 2 diabetes hope for a future without diabetes medication and less chance of developing serious problems with their eyes, feet, or heart.
But working towards it and staying in it can mean making big changes to your life. This can be mentally and emotionally challenging, so understanding the different psychological factors that play a part in moving towards remission can be helpful.
Here are some mental health and emotional wellbeing tips that can make a difference when trying to go into type 2 diabetes remission, and for staying in remission.
Remission isn’t a certainty. Not everyone who has attempted to put their type 2 diabetes into remission has gone into it, no matter how hard they’ve tried. And some people in remission find their blood sugars rise back into the diabetes range for lots of different reasons. This can be disappointing and demotivating, sometimes making you feel like it’s not worth the effort.
Remember though, whether you go into remission or not, and no matter how long you stay in remission for, any lowering of your blood sugar levels and body weight can have a big impact on your diabetes and your overall health. So, no effort is wasted.
Remind yourself of the benefits of going into remission and why you’re making the changes. And take time to think about any benefits you may already be seeing. Perhaps you have more energy and are sleeping better at night?
"You need to have the right mindset as it takes a lot of effort and control but the benefits at the end are so great and worth all the challenges." – Read more about Peter's remission story
Whether you’re trying to lose weight for type 2 remission or trying to maintain weight loss to stay in remission, being realistic and being kind to yourself can help you stay motivated. Here are some things that can help with motivation:
Realistic goal setting
Try setting bite-sized small chunks of goals, rather than look at the bigger goal, which can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Think about how you’re going to reward yourself when you meet each smaller goal. This can give you the motivation to carry on when things feel hard.
Losing weight is not easy. Take time to look at where you started from, what has gone well and what has gone not so well. This can help you realise how far you’ve come, and help you overcome challenges that come up in the future.
Be kind to yourself
When it comes to losing or maintaining weight, no two days are the same. And some days are harder than others. Be kind to yourself on those days. Take time to remember what changes you have made and how they’re helping you improve your health.
Moving towards remission or staying in remission isn’t about one day or one choice. You’re making lifelong changes. So, if you have a hard day, or life throws a curve ball making it difficult to plan, draw a line under it and remember that tomorrow is a new day.
Believing that you can make lifelong changes
Trying for type 2 remission and staying in remission requires lifelong changes and this can be hard. Starting to make changes to the foods you eat and the amount of physical activity you do takes a lot. And so does making these changes permanent so they become part of your everyday. We know it’s not easy to do this on your own.
You're not on your own
Getting support can help give you the self-belief that you can make these changes, keep making healthy choices, and keep going when it feels too hard.
The biggest study into type 2 diabetes remission showed that when people are supported to make long-term changes to their diet and physical activity, they have a better chance of going into type 2 diabetes remission. This is why the NHS remission weight loss programme includes support from a team of specialists like dietitians, health psychologists and exercise experts.
But the NHS remission weight loss programme is not the only place you can get support from to help give you confidence that you can overcome challenges to improve your health.
"It's the hardest thing you'll ever do and at time I felt like giving up but knowing what I know now about diabetes, I won't be going back to where I was before." – Read more of Paul's remission story
Knowing what is possible
Some people in type 2 remission tell us that learning more about their diabetes and the possible benefits of lowering their blood sugar levels to a non-diabetes range has helped keep them motivated when they find making healthy food and exercise choices difficult.
Your healthcare team is a good place to start if you want to know more about your diabetes, type 2 diabetes remission and what support is available to help you lower your blood sugar levels to a non-diabetes range.
Our website and Learning Zone have lots of helpful advice and information too. You’ll find information on type 2 diabetes remission, how to move more, how to make changes to your diet – including recipes ideas, meal plans and food hacks.
And our online forum has a dedicated place where people interested in type 2 diabetes remission share their experiences and their knowledge, and support each other.
Social support for type 2 remission
Having a strong support system, like friends, family, or a support group, can make all the difference when you’re making or continuing with lifestyle changes. They can provide encouragement, advice, support, and help you feel like you’re not doing this on your own.
It might be that not everyone around you understands why you’re making changes. And sometimes people find that their family or friends aren’t as supportive as they’d hope. Here are some tips that might help:
- Sharing information about type 2 diabetes, it’s impact on you, and the importance of healthy eating and doing more exercise can help people understand how they can be supportive.
- If it feels right for you, you could try telling your loved ones what specific changes you’re making to your diet and levels of physical activity, so they know how best to support you.
- Get your loved ones involved in being active – like walking or going to the gym, or doing healthy meal prep together.
- Joining a local or online support group can be incredibly helpful. These groups can provide a place to share experiences, tips and advice. Connecting with others who are trying to go into or maintain remission can be motivating and reassuring. We have Diabetes UK support groups all over the UK.
Support for mental wellbeing
Life throws up all sorts of challenges for us and maintaining healthy habits in times of stress and uncertainty can be especially difficult.
We have lots of support available to help you manage the emotions that can go with trying to go into or stay in remission.
Take a look at your advice on coping with emotions
In our Learning Zone, you'll find:
- A Stress Manager tool
- The 'Losing Weight – My Goals' course – a six week personalised course with weekly emails to help you break down the big daunting task of long-term weight loss into a series of smaller, more achievable goals.
- The 'Get Moving – My Goals' course – a six week personalised course with weekly emails for people who are taking up physical activity for the very first time.
- Courses on getting wellbeing and emotional support