Diabetes and Mental Wellness in 2021

“Spoiler alert – balancing all life demands during a pandemic is rarely, if ever, possible.” said Dr. Jessie Wong, diabetes psychologist at Stanford University.  Dr. Wong joined the CWD team for a reassuring practical talk about working towards mental wellness during this phase of the pandemic for people with and without diabetes.

We all have been more stressed than usual, with COVID-19 adding additional stressors and chaos to our lives, and hope that her advice can help you with your mental wellness.

We all experience stress from various aspects of our lives, but not all stress is bad. Dr. Wong explained how stress is helpful for improving your performance; when it becomes overwhelming, it needs to be addressed. “We don’t want to think about stress as inherently bad, but really think about what is your optimal zone.”

Dr. Wong also described diabetes distress and burnout, which are both very common for people with diabetes and their caregivers. “At any given time, 20% of people with diabetes or their caregiver is experiencing diabetes distress.”

She discussed the importance of both recognizing your own symptoms of distress as well as those of mental wellness. Identifying these symptoms helps you ask for help when you start to get distressed, and assists in working towards managing your stress. It’s also helpful to check in with your family members on their stress so that you can work together to cope with stress.

Advice for coping with stress:

  1. Be aware of your stress levels.
  2. Temper your expectations of yourself and others (examples: let the house be messy, do easy dinners, etc.)
  3. Take care of your body: sleep, exercise, eat healthy.
  4. Schedule time to unwind and take breaks.
  5. Connect with others and discuss your feelings.
  6. Contact your health care team if stress is getting in the way of your daily activities for several days.

Dr. Wong also emphasized the idea that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking care of yourself first is a key step towards being able to help others. The example she gave is the oxygen mask on an airplane: you have to put your mask on before you can put on someone else’s mask. This can be really challenging to do at times, but is really important.

For more information on daily routines, distance learning, managing worry related to COVID for yourself or your child, making SMART goals, and for more, check out the recording of our Screenside Chat with Dr. Jessie Wong.

We hope this has been helpful for you and your loved ones, and wish you mental wellness for 2021!


Written and clinically reviewed by Marissa Town, RN, BSN, CDCES

Published: January 5, 2021
CWD 2017 Smiley For Faculty

The Children with Diabetes editorial team is always working to keep our website updated with accurate, timely, and supportive information for families living with diabetes. Is there a content you’d like to see on CWD?  Email us!