Tips for Managing and Reducing Stress
Not everyone realizes stress can actually exacerbate diabetes symptoms and raise blood glucose levels, but it is a real concern.
The body responds to stress by releasing hormones that give cells access to stored energy in the form of fat and glucose to help the body get away from danger. This instinctive response to perceived threats is known as the “fight or flight” response.
Stress and Blood Glucose Levels
People with diabetes who are regularly stressed are more likely to have poor blood glucose control, possibly because stress hormones — such as cortisol — increase the amount of sugar in the blood.
Constant stress and frustration caused simply by dealing with diabetes every day can also wear people down and cause them to neglect their diabetes care.
They may fall victim to a condition known as diabetes burnout and start to ignore their blood sugar levels, neglect to check them, or they may make poor lifestyle choices by exercising less, eating more junk foods, drinking alcohol with diabetes, and smoking.
While it’s a proven fact that stress alters blood glucose levels, the extent of its impact varies from person to person. Physical stress, such as illness or injury, almost always causes blood sugar levels to elevate in people with diabetes.
Cutting Down Stress
So we have established that diabetes can cause stress, but maybe it’s not diabetes but life in general raising your blood glucose through stress.
Fear not — there are things you can do to help relieve stress or anxiety and improve management of your diabetes. First, find out what is causing your stress!
Most people have at least an inkling but are afraid to face the issue. If it is something big, like health or relationship worries, a good starting point is to talk to your doctor. They can address your physical health concerns or refer you to a counselor for relationship or mental health concerns.
For financial problems, don’t bury your head in the sand. Seek help from your banker or one of the many specialist organizations and charities who can help you take control of debt.
Maybe your issue is something you can sort out relatively easily by yourself. If so, make this a priority; all too often stress-inducing situations grow out of control because it seems easier to ignore them and hope they goes away.
An example of this is an untidy home or office. It sounds so silly, but if piles of paperwork or mail/email building up makes you anxious, set time aside to tackle them.
If a work or home project has grown out of your control, ask or pay for help if possible. Or stop and work out a way of making it manageable without adding stress.
Maybe it’s a person or people raising your blood pressure and glucose? Friends and family can be a blessing — but also a curse sometimes.
Next page: how to distance yourself from toxic relationships and cope with the day-to-day of diabetes