In the age of the internet, the notion of community often seems to be all but a dead concept. Most communities are found online, where like-minded people can immediately access one another from across the glove and create a virtual group of friends and confidants, each of them as likely to agree with your outlooks and ideas as the next.
Although online communities are in no way bad or problematic, they can become an issue when they are your sole source of community rather than a supplementary source. This is particularly true for people with a chronic illness such as diabetes.
What Community Does
Study after study has demonstrated the power of community. Some of them highlight the high rates of obesity, depression, and chronic illness among those living isolated lives while others have identified a link between community outreach and education and lower rates of disease.
The community can be small, such as a group of friends you meet with every month, to a large religious group you visit once or twice per week. The size of your particular community does not seem to matter; instead, your ability to feel connected and involved does.
Diabetes and Community
Diabetes can be an isolating condition, particularly if you struggle to manage your symptoms. Leaving the house for extended periods might be difficult for you or a child with diabetes, as you have to juggle medications, food journals, and monitors, all of which can make you feel conspicuous and uncomfortable. Getting out and into your community is not a small matter of comfort, however, but a matter of how strong your outcome is expected to be and how fulfilling your life is.
People with diabetes are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety—both conditions that can be caused and exacerbated by social isolation and a lack of community. If you have been recently diagnosed or were diagnosed ten years ago, the need is the same: you need a strong, solid community of people.
Although some studies have urged people to find others with the same condition in their community, this is not a prerequisite. Provided that you feel you belong somewhere, and you have a group of people you can trust, you will foster a close sense of community.
What exactly are the effects of having a community in place as a person with diabetes? People who have a solid sense of community experience fewer complications of diabetes, have less difficulty managing blood sugar, and are less likely to overeat, suffer weight problems, and develop mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. All of these can complicate and aggravate diabetes further.
The next time you feel tempted to bypass a community event, take some time out of your day to join. You can participate in a local volunteer organization, attend city council meetings, or even just develop a rapport with your local coffee shop workers. A simple feeling of belonging can help you manage and control your diabetes.References