We live in a fast-paced society that demands a great deal of our time and energy. This level of emotional and physical stress can take a toll on your health especially when you have diabetes because your blood sugar levels will rise. Learn how to manage stress and diabetes for a healthier, happier life.
- When you get stressed, your blood sugar levels soar. Your body goes into a flight-or-fight response mode. Stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine are released for a boost of energy, which causes your blood sugar to rise. Physical and emotional stress can cause these hormones to be released and your blood sugar levels to go up.
- It is essential to maintain proper blood sugar levels for optimum health. Prolonged, elevated blood sugar can lead to cardiovascular disease and strokes. Other health complications related to poorly controlled blood sugar include nerve damage, kidney problems, loss of vision, and more. Use a monitor with glucose test strips to determine your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Record the results and share them with your physician during regular appointments. Let your doctor know about extreme highs or lows right away.
- Physical stresses your body may go through may include a cold, flu or urinary tract infection. These health issues put added physical stress on your body and can affect blood sugar levels. You may also lose your appetite and skip meals or nibble on unhealthy snacks. Feeling run down may lead to skipping your daily workout. All of these conditions have an impact on your blood sugar levels. Eat meals and snacks even when you don’t feel good. Walk around the house or do stretches in bed to fit some exercise into your day. Do not exercise when you have a fever. Stay away from “comfort foods” which are typically unhealthy snacks with too much sugar, salt or fat. Instead nibble on fruits, vegetables and whole grains along with low-fat dairy and lean meats and fish. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Many factors can cause emotional stress including losing a job, the death or illness of a loved one or financial problems. If you have control over the situation, make an effort to change it and reduce your stress. If it is a situation you have no control over, find ways to cope with it. This may include communicating with loved ones or taking action to improve a certain aspect of your life. It is important to pinpoint the stressors in your life and address them.
- There are many ways to help reduce your stress and feel better. Try meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises. Consider progressive relaxation therapy which involves tensing and relaxing major muscle groups in a sequence. Learn more about cognitive behavior therapy to help you re-evaluate the source of your stress and how to change your behaviors and reactions for a better life. Step back from the situation and remove yourself from the stress. Eliminate or reduce caffeine which can impact your body’s ability to handle stress and sugar. Continue a healthy eating and exercise routine to help lower blood sugar and reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good. Engage in a hobby you enjoy such as photography or crafting.
- If you continue to feel stress, anxiety and/or depression, discuss it with your doctor. Your physician may recommend talking to a therapist or counselor. A doctor might also prescribe anti-anxiety medication. Get support from your health care team, family and friends. If the disease itself is causing you stress, consider joining a diabetes group where you can discuss your feelings with people who understand.
Stress is bad for everyone, especially people with diabetes who need to maintain proper blood sugar levels. Exercise, eat a balanced diet and learn how to deal with stress in a positive way. When you reduce the stress in your life, you are sure to feel better.