Diabetes Management

How Stress Affects Diabetes & Tips to Manage It

November 2019

During the day, you might encounter various things (small or big) that cause you to stress out. It’s normal – everyone experiences it. While we might not be able to control the factors causing stress, we can definitely control how we deal with it.

The unknown effects of stress on blood sugar control:

Managing stress is vital for everyone – but especially so for people living with diabetes. Stress might be unknown reason your blood sugar levels are not under control.

Your body has a ‘fight-or-flight’ response to the stress it is experiencing. This results in your blood sugar levels increasing immediately and your heart to start racing. Over time, this kind of reaction takes a toll on you – both mentally and physically – making managing diabetes more difficult.

Being stressed also results in you forgetting to take your medicines, skipping meals or exercise, not getting enough sleep or even gain weight due to binge eating. All of which could, in turn, affect your blood sugar levels.

Tips for managing stress:

Instead of letting the thought of stress affecting your body stress you out, let’s talk about 10 easy ways to manage stress and calm yourself down in anxious situations:

  1. Be positive: Keeping a ‘glass half full’ attitude can help you and the people around you. Appreciate and be grateful for what you have instead of focusing on the things that are going wrong.
  2. Accept what you can’t change: Somethings (like your boss’s temper or a pressing deadline) are just not in your control. Instead of stressing about it, accept the fact that you can’t change it – you’ll soon realise that things are not as bad as you anticipated.
  3. Learn to laugh it off: There’s a reason they say ‘laughter is the best medicine’ and you see Laughter Clubs at every park around town. Laughing reduces stress hormones and releases endorphins – the feel-good hormones.
  4. Seek help : Talk to someone you trust – a friend or family member. Sometimes, just blurting out what’s bothering you can help you a lot. Don’t be shy to seek professional help if you think things are getting a little out of control. Better safe than sorry!
  5. Practice meditation: Start your day with a 15-minute mindfulness session. Focus your energy on breathing, relaxing and letting go of all the things that are worrying you. You may find your mind wandering off – but that’s quite natural for beginners. Keep going, and you will get better at it.
  6. Take deep breaths: This is something you can practice anytime, anywhere. If you find yourself feeling anxious, stop whatever you’re doing, go to a quiet place and take deep breaths. Focus your energy on your inhalation and exhalation, and you will instantly feel calmer.
  7. Keep moving: Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when stressed but give it a go – it will help release endorphins and make you feel much better. It will also allow you to focus on something else for a while.
  8. Get enough sleep: A good night’s sleep is the most refreshing thing you can do for yourself. Try to go to bed at the same time every day so that your body falls into a pattern. It would be best if you aimed to get about 7-8 hours of undisturbed sleep every night.
  9. Switch off (whenever you can!): Take time off from your cell phones and computers and learn to be present in the moment. Always being connected and mindless scrolling on social media leaves very little time for your mind to slow down. Switch off when you can – you will love it!
  10. Take time to unwind: It is easy to get into the rut of work-home-work. Learn to break the cycle and do something that you’re passionate about. Have a hobby that helps you unwind, take short trips with family to relax, catch up with your friends – do more of what you love and enjoy!

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