Diabetes and coping with the end of lockdown

Open front door leading to outside

As the latest lockdown restrictions begin to come to an end in line with the government’s Covid-19 roadmap, many of us can hopefully look forward to doing some of our favourite things again.

However, for lots of people living with diabetes, this may be an anxious time. After months spent in the relative safety of our own homes, some may struggle with the transition to getting out and about again.

It’s totally normal to feel a little nervous. However, prolonged or unusual levels of stress can have an impact on blood glucose levels. Couple that with changes to daily routine, plus increased temptation as we start to eat out or on-the-go again, and it can be a tricky time for people living with diabetes to keep their glucose levels in range.

To help you start preparing for the end of lockdown, we’ve collated some useful guides below:

CALM’s roadmap to helping you out of lockdown

Contains several handy tips on how to quieten any worries you may have about returning to the hustle & bustle of post-lockdown life.

Mental Health Foundation: Relaxation of Covid rules

Provides some great advice on coping with post-lockdown anxiety, such as keeping a note of things you’ve achieved or enjoyed.

Coronavirus news from Diabetes UK, including updates on shielding & vaccines

The go-to source of trustworthy news regarding diabetes and coronavirus, including updates on shielding advice for people regarded as extremely clinically vulnerable.

20 clever tips to eat healthy when eating out

Gives some useful tips on eating out in a healthy fashion, such as familiarising yourself with the menu beforehand and opting for grilled or steamed options rather than fried.

Becoming more active again – safely

On the bright side, the success of the UK’s vaccine rollout, coupled with falling infection rates, provides a welcome ray of light for most people. It also provides the chance to get a bit more active again after a long winter spent mostly isolated and indoors, which can have a hugely positive impact on your diabetes.

Please remember to always follow the official government advice, check restrictions in your area, and always follow any advice on shielding you have been given by your healthcare team. Here’s to a happy and safe summer in 2021.

Spirit Pharmacy will continue to offer our free home delivery service for repeat NHS prescriptions after lockdown ends, including dispensing drugs into blister packs for free on request. You can also continue to speak to our pharmacists, who take extra training in diabetes care, on the phone or via email for help with medication, diet and lifestyle based on your medical history.

managing your medicines

The more medicines you are prescribed, the harder it can be to keep track of them. There are many ways that we can help you to make managing your medicines easier!

Why managing your medicines can be difficult

The thought of managing your medicines can be daunting. Remembering when to order your next prescription and making sure you take your medicines correctly can cause stress and anxiety. You don’t need to worry – we’re here to make it easier for you to manage your prescriptions.

It’s normal to worry about your medication. Common causes for concern include:

  • Running out of medication, especially if you (or your loved one) have lots of prescription items
  • If your medication is often changing, it can be hard to set a routine to take them at the right time of day
  • The possibility of side effects, and not knowing what to do if your medicine causes them

At Spirit Pharmacy, we’re proud of our personal and friendly service. We can make managing your medicines a little bit easier for you. These are some of the ways we can help you:

blister pack

Blister packs

Blister packs help you take your medication at the right times of the day. We sort your medicine doses into designated sealed compartments for particular times of the day. It’s a service we offer free of charge, just let us know when you put a prescription through!

Medicine reminders

We can remind you when it’s time to order your medicines, so you never have to worry about running out again. We can email or phone you when it’s time to order, tell us how you would prefer us to keep in touch.

Family medicine management

We can help you manage your whole family’s medicine too, including children under 16 and vulnerable family members.

You can sign up a family member and manage their medication by phone or online!

call spirit pharmacy

New medicines service

If you are starting a new medicine for a long-term condition, we can provide extra help and advice at a time that suits you. We will support you over several weeks to help you use your new medicines safely and to the best effect. If you have any questions or concerns about your medicines, feel free to contact us at any time (email is fine, but we love speaking to our patients on the phone too).

It’s important to take medicines as instructed. Always follow the instructions on the labels. Take them at the right time of the day, and take note of other advice, e.g. to take with food – this will help your medicines to work more effectively. Talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions, especially with new medicines or changes to prescriptions.

How we can help with managing your medicines

At Spirit Pharmacy our mission is to make health easy. You can speak with our pharmacists over the phone or online. We can provide you with readymade blister packs of your medication and can call to remind you when it’s time to re-order your medication. We can also answer any questions you may have about your medication such as, how to take them properly and what to do if you experience any side effects.

All of our parcels are sent with free next day delivery! You can also choose to have them delivered to your place of work, or even arrange to pick them up from your local post office. We send insulin in insulated packaging that can keep it cool for up to 3 days, meaning you don’t have to worry about it getting warm! We also offer free diabetes education to our patients, to help you better manage your condition at home.

You don’t have to worry about your medication anymore. Call us on 0116 464 5558 or click here to find out more and register with us.

online pharmacy

There are many reasons to use an online pharmacy, but sometimes people have concerns about using the internet to order their medicines. In this blog, we’ll dispel some of the common misunderstandings about using an online pharmacy.

The benefits of using an online pharmacy include:

  1. Convenience: You can order your medication online at any time, wherever you are.
  2. Speed: It only takes a minute or two to order your medicines
  3. It’s easy: You order online (or by phone or email) and the pharmacy posts your medicines to you, so you don’t have to leave the house.

However, we know that many people have questions about using an online pharmacy for the first time. Let us put your mind at rest by busting the common myths:

1. I’m not sure how an online pharmacy works with my doctor’s surgery

The computer systems at online pharmacies, like community pharmacies, are set up to receive prescriptions electronically from your GP so that any pharmacy can dispense your prescription medicines. All you have to do is nominate which pharmacy you’d prefer to use.

At Spirit Pharmacy, we work with more than 9,300 GP practices in England. That means that once we are your nominated pharmacy, your doctor will send us your prescriptions. We’ll dispense your NHS prescriptions, post them to you free of charge and keep you updated with the progress of your order too. You can find out more here or give us a call on 0116 464 5558.

2. It’s difficult to start using an online pharmacy

Many people are surprised to find how easy it is to start using an online pharmacy. It takes under 5 minutes to complete the online form (click on the link at the top of the page).

We’ll then take over and ask your doctor for your prescription details and remind you when it’s time to order your medicines. That’s all there is to it!

3. I can’t talk to a real person

Ordering your medicines online is fast, easy and convenient. But, sometimes you can’t beat talking with a real person, especially if your prescription has changed or you want to ask a pharmacist questions about your medicines, such as their side effects or taking several medicines at the same time. At Spirit Pharmacy, you have the best of both worlds. You can order online, and you can also phone our friendly pharmacists for advice and information. They’re available during our opening hours to talk to you, answer your questions and put your mind at ease. You can call our pharmacists on 0116 464 5558.

4. It will take too long to get my medicines

Many people think they’ll have to wait much longer to get their medicines from an online pharmacy, but that’s not true. At Spirit Pharmacy, we’ll remind you when to order your medication, so there is plenty of time to:

  • ask your GP to authorise your prescription and send it to us electronically
  • dispense your medication safely
  • post your medicines and for you to take delivery of it

At Spirit Pharmacy, we start to process your prescriptions as soon as you order them (which you can do online, on the phone or by email). We aim to dispense and dispatch your medication on the same day we receive authorisation from your GP.

5. My medicines might get lost in the post

Spirit Pharmacy uses secure, 24 and 48-hour delivery services. You can choose the delivery address for your medicines too, and lots of people prefer the convenience of having their medications delivered to their place of work (which is why we always use plain and discreet packaging). You can also let us know if you prefer to have your medicines delivered on a particular day in the week, and if you aren’t at home when we deliver, you can arrange re-delivery using the missed delivery card.

If you have medicines that you keep in a fridge, such as insulin, we’ve got that covered too. We use special multi-award-winning insulated packaging that exceeds guidelines for refrigerated pharmaceutical products, so your medication is safe in the post. The packaging uses sustainable, compostable, recyclable or recycled materials.

About Spirit Pharmacy

Spirit Pharmacy is a friendly distance-selling pharmacy with a particular interest in diabetes. We provide the same dispensing services and advice you would expect from your local community pharmacy, or dispensing doctor, with the convenience of secure repeat prescription ordering and fast, free delivery.

We process prescriptions for all patients. If you pay for your prescriptions, we will call you before we dispense them to take payment. If you are exempt from prescription charges, you can add your exemption details via our website or you can give us a call.

We love providing pharmacy services for everyone, but especially people living with diabetes. We offer free reviews of your prescriptions and access to free online diabetes education.

Click here to register, and we’ll make it easy for you to manage your repeat prescriptions. If you have any questions, please call us on 0116 464 5558.

In this article, we are pleased to pass on some inspirational thoughts from Sue, Editor of Desang magazine, a free online magazine for people with diabetes with the latest news, views, reviews, features, free samples and giveaways. Check out the latest issue here, and read about how Spirit is supporting the NHS during COVID-19.

Sue Marshall, Editor of Desang Magazine

It’s been a while

I have been living with Type 1 diabetes for nearly 50 years, having been diagnosed at the age of five, so I have pretty much always had to take care of myself. It is scary being told you have diabetes and it’s a steep learning curve for all the family.

Constant injections became just a part of my normal life and I was lucky to have a dad who was an engineer and a mum who was a nurse so keeping track of doses and weighing food also became part of the family’s normality.
Back then, blood test meters were not yet available. I got my first one when I was 17. We had tablets to drop into a test tube with a urine sample and which fizzed up and changed colour to show how ‘sugary’ you were. Then later the much nicer urine test strips that I had to pee on, and they would similarly change colour.

These days I am able to keep my diabetes under control using a pump, CGM, great support from my diabetes team at the clinic and live a full and busy life.

I always keep blood testing and injecting kit with me at all times along with a sugar source, remembering to replace supplies of blood tests strips, needles, and insulin supplies as they get used up.

I worked in PR and journalism and constantly carried my diabetes kit around to press events and conferences, I came up with the idea of designing a ‘kitbag’, something to stick all my kit in. Back then, and we’re talking about 15 years ago, diabetes carry cases and wallets were not as easily found as they are today. I strongly felt that my diabetes kit deserved a nice place to ‘live’. It was after all ‘life-critical’ to me, more than just a lipstick or a packet of tissues.

Over the years I developed the brand name Desang (it roughly means ‘of blood’) and the Desang range of diabetes kitbags. The kitbags are made of leather and last for ages!

I started to write about all the kit that goes into kitbags – blood test meters, insulin pens, hypo treatments. Then, as products evolved, I wrote about insulin pumps and CGM sensors.

Over time, I reverted back to my old love, publishing. What had started as a newsletter out to my tribe of ‘kitbaggers’ evolved into a ‘flippy’ online magazine with a focus on kit as well as information about how to live well with diabetes.

I am extremely proud that I can give something back to the diabetes community and have certainly adapted to the challenge of living with diabetes.

Tickets please!

As we enter summertime, by this time of year I usually start writing about advice on travelling with diabetes. Not this year though.

I have many happy memories of travel, for both business and pleasure. For many years I have encouraged people to buy kitbags for travel, especially when security measures become more rigorous. It helps to have one bag with all your kit in it to show someone at Border Control.

Although, looking at this holiday snap, maybe I had already started to plan ahead!

Moving on…

The recent and ongoing coronavirus outbreak has increased my gratitude for my circle of friends and the healthcare professionals who support me as well as the great people I know and respect in the diabetes arena. It is my belief that while there are some competing interests, in the main we’re all heading in the same direction, which is to say improving the lives of people living with diabetes until cures or a definitive prevention is found.

Seven tips for lockdown are:

  1. Keep a good eye on your diabetes supplies of kit and medicines. Order earlier than you would normally.
  2. Have a ‘sick day plan’ written down that helps others to help you if you need it, including your usual medications, timings and doses and numbers of your GP or clinic.
  3. I’ve invested in some medical ICE ID (in case of emergency) that I wear all the time now.
  4. Keep as active as possible. Climb the stairs until you are a bit breathless. No stairs? Construct one simple step and just use that. You don’t have to do an hour at a time. Five minutes four times a day is better than nothing.
  5. Keep an eye on food portions. Either boredom or anxiety (or even both) are likely to make you feel hungry. Keep your eyes and brain engaged — use the same plate, measure things out. We’ll all come out of lockdown a bit tubbier than when we went in, but let’s not make it too much!
  6. Stay connected! Whether it’s phone calls, letters, or learning to use Zoom or any other means to see people and keep in touch. I’ve had to learn Zoom, Skype and Team Viewer. Initially a bit of a challenge, and there’s always a few issues with technology at some point, but, really worth it to see the ones you love.
  7. Stay home as much as possible to be certain of not being exposed. Wear a mask and gloves if you do go out. Stay alert to symptoms and do not delay if you have any worries at all about your diabetes. The NHS is not shut to other conditions needing attention other than COVID-19.

Life is a journey, I just happened to undertake mine with a kitbag full of diabetes bits and bobs. So, while am I not going to go on holiday for a while, I shall dig out my old photo albums (remember cameras with films in them?) and reminisce about some of the places I’ve been before and hope I will see again one day soon.

The Desang range of kitbags can be found at www.desang.net
It’s free to sign up to get Desang’s online magazine, just send an email saying ‘sign me up’ to info@desang.net

See the magazine at www.desang-magazine.co.uk

diabetes and self isolation

How can you stay fit and healthy when you have diabetes and self-isolation has been forced upon you for 12 weeks? I’m sure it’s a question on everyone’s mind, especially when you have a health condition which requires you to stay active. I know that isolation seems like such drastic action, but if you have any underlying health conditions, including diabetes, you’re put into a high-risk group of catching COVID-19. Although it’s frustrating, isolation is in your best interest.

What can you do?

You have plenty of options to keep yourself moving and motivated indoors! Working out at home is the new going to the gym. Why not try walking up and down the stairs a few times, use your chair or sofa to do squats or do a push up against your wall? There is plenty of opportunity to stay active indoors, it might just take a little more motivation than usual. See this blog for some easy at home work outs for beginners to get you into the swing of things.

Isolation doesn’t mean just staying inside your home, you’re perfectly fine to go out into your garden and this will help you feel less trapped during this time. Why not try some light gardening? As well as being good exercise, being outside for a few hours a day will help reduce any stress and anxiety that can build up during the isolation time. Read this blog to get an idea on how to start.

You’re also able to leave the house to exercise once a day, so why not go for a light jog or brisk walk? As long as you keep your distance from others, a bit of time outside will help you mentally and make staying inside more bearable.

It’s not just about your body, trying to keep your mind active can be just as much of a struggle when you’re isolated. The best thing to do is to try and keep a routine, especially if you regularly take medication. It’s probably already second nature to you and you don’t need us to tell you how important it is, but maintaining a good glycaemic control and regularly taking your medication will keep you healthy and boost your state of mind too.

Other day-to-day things can also help with this such as: reading, puzzles, sudoku or just having a call with a family member, maybe a good time to try a video call so they feel a bit closer! Try to keep as much of your day-to-day life as normal as possible and you’ll find it all a lot easier to deal with.

We can help

During this period of isolation, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone, but our pharmacists are here to help you. We’re still operating as normal and would love to help you during these hard and uncertain times. Let us worry about your medication, so you don’t have to. Register now to have your prescriptions delivered first class to your house at a time that suits you.

Living with diabetes can be a challenge! Controlling blood sugar fluctuations is key to managing not only your physical health but also your emotional wellbeing. Stressing about your diabetes can lead to problems. In this blog, we suggest ways of keeping diabetes-related stress levels under control and provide some tips to help us think about talking more.

Feeling low is normal

We all have those days when one minute we are full of life, and the next we want to curl up on the sofa and shut the world out for a few minutes. It’s not surprising, really. Being diagnosed with diabetes and learning to live with a long-term condition requires some changes to lifestyle as well as a change in mindset.

People living with diabetes are more likely to experience mental health problems such as depression and anxiety1,2. This is partly because when blood sugars keep going up and down it can cause rapid changes in mood and affect mental wellbeing.

It’s important to remember that if you manage your blood sugar levels by following the advice of your doctor or nurse things can be controlled, leaving you to live the life you want to lead.

Managing stress

Managing an invisible condition can be exhausting and isolating, but worrying can cause complications. Worrying increases your adrenaline levels which in turn can make you feel bad-tempered and stressed.

Your feelings change as your adrenaline level goes up and down. Where are you on the scale?

Remember, there are small changes you can make to help stop feeling tense and stressed:

  1. Do a little exercise – a gentle walk or a little yoga can help distract you and make you feel calmer.
  2. Avoid drinking too much coffee and tea – caffeine makes tension worse. Try and drink less than 4 or 5 cups a day.
  3. Practise deep breathing – shallow breathing can make anxiety worse. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach and breathe deeply, so only your stomach rises and falls.

The power of talking

Talking about feelings and mental health is not always easy. Society is changing with high profile celebrities making it more visible. I in 4 people struggle with mental health issues and this month “Time to Talk Day” encourages everyone to be more open about mental health. Check out their page for more details.

Talking to a friend, relative or work colleague, who listens patiently can often be all the support you need to take a step back and reflect on how you are feeling. But it doesn’t have to be someone you know personally. Sometimes finding like-minded people who have a deep level of understanding of living with diabetes, or strangers who can listen without judgement, are just as helpful.

Top talking tips

  1. Build trust and confidence – Talking to people you know regularly helps build strong bonds and relationships. When you feel comfortable and trust people, you are more likely to reach out about how you feel. Get involved in things where you can have more social interaction to create more opportunities to talk. Think about organising regular get-togethers or maybe join an activity group. The important thing is to make the time to chat.
  2. Get an outside perspective – Talking to others can help you get perspective on your situation and enable you to talk about how to reduce stress and anxiety. Stress can cloud your ability to see solutions that might seem obvious to an outsider. As well as your healthcare professional, there are also local diabetes support groups you can join. They are often run by people living with diabetes and offer a place to talk and share helpful advice. Find your local group.
    But if you feel uncomfortable in a group you can always look for online diabetes communities to join.
  3. Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts and actions – When you talk about how you are feeling, you begin to realise that other people experience similar emotions. You are not alone! Find things that make you feel good and make you feel great. Try to plan something positive to do every day whether it’s meeting up with friends or watching your favourite TV programme. Focus on the brilliant person that you are and remember all the wonderful things in your life!

A few positive thoughts to help you on your way

  • If I take charge of my diabetes, it will not stop me from living a normal life.
  • It’s ok to feel a bit sad and worried sometimes— Who doesn’t?
  • A healthier lifestyle will help me be a much better and happier person than an unhealthy one. 


  1.  https://www.england.nhs.uk/blog/diabetes-and-mental-health-call-out-for-examples-of-best-practice/
  2. Ducat, L., Philipson, L. H., & Anderson, B. J. (2014). The mental health comorbidities of diabetes. JAMA, 312(7), 691–692. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.8040 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4439400/

Making a New Year’s resolution can be a challenge, whether you want to make lifestyle changes, set personal goals or get a little fitter. Making small, manageable changes and starting the year with a positive mindset can help you stay healthy and happy!

We have put together some top tips to get started.

Be more active

Being more physically active is easier than you think, whether it’s a gentle walk, run, swim or even doing daily chores such as cooking or cleaning. A small increase in activity can make a big difference. Choosing to exercise regularly helps reduce the chance of long-term complications from your diabetes, for example it makes you feel happier, strengthens bones and muscles, improves sleep, reduce your weight and reduces blood glucose levels. WIN – WIN!

Try something new

Whether you want to take part in something gentle or more active there are lots of options available, for example – gardening, dancing, bowls, or swimming. The best way is to keep a diary so that you can record what you have done. Start slowly, increase your activity levels in small amounts and gradually work your way up to 30 minutes a day. 

Keep motivated

It can be daunting to stay on your chosen activity, but if you split activity up throughout the week then this will make it so much easier. Sometimes you will find it easier, other days will feel harder. Don’t be tempted to do too much. Ask your friends and family to keep you on track and set yourself some small achievable goals that you know you can achieve.

Once you meet these goals reward yourself with a simple get together with your partner or friends or even a little treat.

Keep Moving

You have a higher risk of developing foot problems when you have diabetes. It’s important to not sit for too long without moving. Make sure you have appropriate footwear that fit correctly and are comfortable. Why not try these simple activities to keep you moving, you will be surprised how much better you feel!

  • Go for a walk
  • Stand up and have a stretch
  • Take the stairs more often if you can
  • Change sitting position often
  • Stand up when you are on the phone
  • Try parking in the furthest corner of the car park
  • Jog on the spot
  • Dance around the house 

Have the ‘keep moving’ message front of mind and remember to talk to a doctor to make sure the chosen activity is suitable for you.

Get involved

Find fun ways or take on a challenge or support a cause close to your heart. This could be a fundraising charity event, volunteering or something that you organise yourself with your friends. Not only will this allow you to get more active, but it will help boost your confidence and allow you to gain new skills and experiences. You could also try joining a yoga class or a walking group. Exercising is more fun when you do it with others.

Make time for relaxation

Its important to make sure you take time to relax and “switch off” from all your worries. Not only does this reduce stress levels, it helps you relax and helps lower your blood pressure.

Remember to always talk to your health professionals, so that they can help. Happy New Year! Keep positive, motivated and healthy!

Visit these websites for more helpful advice on keeping active and discover what is available in your area:

Are you planning on making some lifestyle changes – what tips do you have? Let us know at hello@spirit-pharmacy.co.uk

It’s that magical time of year again. The holidays are all about spending quality time with friends and family. Plan ahead and you will be able to relax and enjoy the festivities.

Our top tips to help you enjoy the holidays and manage your diabetes:

1. Enjoy festive eating

It’s easy to over eat during the holiday season with lots of temptation all around. Planning ahead and keeping to a healthy eating plan during festivities will help you. As you know you do not need a special diet. It is about making sensible choices.

Our top tip is to remember to love your veggies. Vegetables are low in carbohydrate (carbs) and high in fibre and will help to fill you up, not to mention they are full of vitamins and minerals.

2. Spread your carbs

Spread carbs throughout the day and be mindful of your portion size. Slow acting carbs release energy slowly and are less sugary and starchy. Examples would be sweet potatoes mixed with your white potatoes, all those lovely root vegetables like carrots and parsnips, beans, lentils, sweetcorn, and wholemeal breads and pasta.

3. Take your time

It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register you are full and if you eat too quickly you are more likely to overeat. Try to take your time and eat slowly. A little tip is to put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls. But most of all enjoy your food, even the odd treat, and the company of your friends and family.

4. Never skip a meal

Busy, busy, busy! Keeping track of meals when we are busy doing the last minute Christmas shopping and having fun can be a challenge. Take time to plan ahead and make sure you have something to eat at regular intervals.

5. Keep hydrated

We would recommend drinking 8-10 cups of sugar-free fluids a day. It’s important to stay hydrated but be mindful that fruit juices and smoothies may contain a lot of sugar and calories.

Water is fine! You can also drink alcohol in moderation but remember not to drink alcohol on an empty stomach. The best time to drink alcohol is with a meal.

And one more thing… go for a walk if you can

Did you know that when you exercise it helps your body use the insulin more efficiently, therefore lowering your blood sugar faster?
This doesn’t mean that you need to run a half marathon after the big meal. Even moderate activity can help to lower blood sugar. If you are able to, why not go for a walk after a big meal to take away that completely ‘full feeling’. Nothing better on a nice crisp winter’s day.

Frequently asked questions

  • Are there any ways to make traditional holiday foods healthier?
    You can always recreate any recipe and make it healthier. Think about the type of fat you are using. Think about what you use to cook food, some simple swaps include swapping saturated fats for unsaturated fats, (e.g. butter for coconut oil or vegetable oils), and substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners to reduce calories.
  • How can I stay motivated?
    Find ways to stay motivated. Whether it’s setting new goals, exercising more frequently or something else. This time of year, can make you feel low in mood so remember to talk to your close ones. There is always someone there to listen and help you enjoy the holidays. Did you know that a few minutes of laughter a day triggers the release of mood-boosting endorphins? Worth a try!
  • Should I go on a “detox” after eating holiday meals?
    Just get back on track after the holidays. Give leftovers away and get back to your healthy diet.

Everyone can enjoy the holiday season, just remember it is only a few days. The main ingredient is planning and laughter.

Enjoy your time celebrating by keeping these tips in mind.
Happy holidays!

What other tips do you recommend? Let us know at hello@spirit-pharmacy.co.uk