It seems diabetes and anger may go hand-in-hand. Dealing with diabetes can make people feel angry and anger may result in blood sugar elevations. “Anger and frustration foster risk taking by impacting self-regulation and can make things even worse.” Discover why anger and stewing can mess with your diabetes.
Why is Anger Related to Diabetes?
From the initial diagnosis to ongoing self-management, some people are angry about having to deal with diabetes daily and forever. Diabetes must be treated indefinitely since it is a chronic illness with no known or specific cure. The goal is to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, blood pressure levels, cholesterol levels and reduce your stress levels. This can be a challenge that makes people feel “angry at the disease” and the steps it takes to treat it. Your current lifestyle may need dramatic changes that require a lot of hard work, focus, finances and excessive time. Others feel threatened due to the potential complications and anger is a defense mechanism. It is important to learn how to recognize your anger and use it to help improve your diabetes care.
Diabetes Care Remains Necessary
Ongoing diabetes care is necessary to live a healthy life and help reduce the risk of related health problems and diabetes complications. Anger can lead to failure to take proper care of your diabetes resulting in heightened blood sugars. Examine each situation which causes frustration and anger when it comes to managing your diabetes. Hopefully, your angry feelings towards your self-diabetes management and care will dissipate when you feel like your preventative care is really paying off. This will ultimately help control your blood sugars and overall health.
- Take time to determine what makes you angry and when you feel that way. Keep notes about your feelings and look for patterns. Write in a specific anger journal. If nothing seems to work, consult a diabetes educator, dietitian, social worker or therapist.
- Why are you angry? Do you get angry before going to parties because you need to avoid sugary, rich foods? Are you angry when the family is eating at an all you can eat buffet? Then you need to discover new and healthier foods to substitute. Maybe eat a wholesome snack before you go, so you are less hungry and frustrated. Scan the party or buffet to look for delicious choices which may not affect your blood sugar, as much. Eating hummus or low-fat cheese with a few whole grain crackers is a better bet than a hunk of chocolate cake and tastes just as good. Use a small plate to take a taste of all the goodies you can’t resist.
- Do you get angry because you need to take medication daily to control blood sugars? Is it the cost of the medications, the inconvenience, or the medication side effects that make you angry? Learn all the benefits of taking your medication by talking to your pharmacist or health care provider which may help reduce your anger. Knowledge can reduce your frustration. Find the cheapest price by checking around. Can you order a 3-month supply, or take a generic version? Consider ordering a larger dose and then split the oral medication? Can you combine 2 different medications into one pill? These simple techniques concerning your medications may lower your anger. These are all questions you want to discuss with your physician.
- What about having to test your blood glucose daily or more with a meter? Again, the cost, the pain and inconvenience could make you angry. Find diabetes supplies online, at a discounted price. Use proper technique by changing the lancet each time for reduced pain and a good drop of blood. If you have health insurance, make sure you pick a meter brand that is covered. Consider wearing a continuous glucose monitor like the Libre; you won’t have to stick yourself every day. You can get frequent readings and quickly treat out of zone sugars.
- Having to exercise for blood sugar control and weight loss can make you angry. Do you hate to sweat? Do you lack time to exercise during your day? Did you have to pay for a gym membership? These things may cause frustration. Exercise releases endorphins which are “natural feel good chemicals”. These can reduce anger. Besides true aerobic movement-running, biking, swimming, incorporate more activities of daily living. Take the steps, walk the dog, rake the leaves, jump rope, park far away from your destination, wash your dishes by hand, jump in the pool and tread water or use a kickboard and fidget. Even small movements can increase your energy expenditure. Exercise can truly lower your negative feelings.
- Does constant worrying about future diabetes complications make you angry? Do you still smoke or drink too much alcohol? You have heard about the complications: blindness, trouble feeling your feet, possible amputation, and heart or kidney disease. Instead of dwelling on what may happen and feeling angry about it, controlling blood sugars in the now, can prevent these diabetes complications.
Figure Out What Fuels Your Anger
Once you are angry, these feelings can become more intense until you are stewing for hours. Learn to look for the warning signs that your anger is getting deeper. You might start talking louder and faster, sweating, turn red and feel uptight inside. Tears may flow from your eyes. Your mouth and lips may get dry, your heart may start pounding and you may lose your focus and concentration. Even your pupils will constrict. These are all aspects of the, “fight or flight” syndrome. Hormones pour into your bloodstream which raises your blood sugars and your blood pressure rockets. You may even develop insomnia if this happens frequently. You need to learn what fuels your anger ,how to process it and how to react.
What Should You Do?
Focus on your feelings, slow down, breathe deeply, count to 10 and get a drink of water. Remain logical and flexible. Stand and pace to dissipate some energy. Maybe a short walk will help settle you down. Close your eyes and think of a pretty scene. Listen for pleasant sounds like the leaves rustling, running water or the birds chirping. Play some soft instrumental music. Try doing yoga poses. Repeat a phrase or mantra. Tell yourself, “it will be OK, or this will pass.” Squeeze and release a stress ball. Write angry thoughts on a piece of paper and then tear into tiny pieces and discard. Chew sugar free gum. Drink a cup of herbal tea. Use progressive muscle relaxation – tense and relax particular muscle groups helps you calm down. Use humor – watch a funny cat video or tell a silly joke.
These simple actions may help you take charge of your feelings and regain a sense of control over your anger. Sometimes, explosive actions make you feel worse. Things like kicking, punching, hitting and screaming can actually increase your anger and put you into a worse place, mentally. Decide what works best for you.
Try to Benefit from Your Anger
Maintain an anger journal and read it periodically to learn more about your feelings. Focus on what makes you mad and try to resolve it. Does diabetes make you want to avoid others? Some people feel self-conscious about having diabetes and it makes them angry. Try to share details about diabetes with your friends, family, and co-workers so they understand your food restrictions and how they can help during emergencies. Work with a diabetes health care team to get control of the disease. This team may include a treating physician, dentist, diabetes nurse educator, dietitian, cardiologist, podiatrist, ophthalmologist, and therapist. Learn more about diabetes by joining a class, support or self-help group. If your feelings of anger persist make an appointment with a counselor or therapist. Ask your doctor about anger-management programs. Learn how to use your anger to help you improve your physical and mental health.
Steps to Calm Down
Controlling your health and talking to others may help you reduce anger. Take other steps to help you calm down and regain control. Persistent anger may lead to more heart attacks and strokes. People with diabetes are already at an increased risk of heart disease as well as feelings of anxiety and depression. Stewing can heighten these risks. Learn meditation and use these APPS to relax. Make a special morning time for daily meditation. Try a ballroom dance or salsa class to burn off excess energy. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage or facial. Share feelings with those you trust whether it be at work, at home or a support group. Focus on ways to reduce rage before it takes hold of you and increases your blood sugars and blood pressure. Anger raises cortisol levels which may increase your weight.
Anger and Blood Glucose Regulation
Studies have shown a link between diabetes and anger leading to problems with blood glucose regulation. The hormones that regulate the glucose levels in your blood are the same ones that regulate stress levels that lead to emotions such as rage and depression. When your anger elevates, it over stimulates the hormones that affect blood sugar levels. Use a blood sugar meter to keep track of your blood glucose levels. Note when they are high or low to see how anger is impacting your blood sugar levels. This can encourage you to learn how to better control these feelings. The latest research indicates changes in blood glucose levels can affect your mood. This is referred to as “glycemic variability”. Without taking control of your feelings and health it may become an unhealthy cycle.
Highs and Lows: Blood Sugar
Mood swings can also be related to high and low blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can make you combative, difficult, irritable and slur your words. These are physiological conditions resulting from your brain being deprived of glucose. This has a negative impact on your cognitive function. Discuss your medication and insulin dosage with your doctor. Eat balanced meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. Do not eliminate complex carbohydrates. Have glucose tablets handy in case your blood sugar drops. High blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia, may also cause mood changes. You may feel grumpy, exhausted and unfocused. Keep track of extreme highs and lows and report them to your doctor. Your self-management routine may need a few changes.
Anger, stewing, and poor blood sugar control can lead to serious health issues and diabetes complications. Learning ways to cope with anger and maintain healthy blood glucose levels makes a difference. With the right approach, you will feel happier and healthier for years to come!