…Because: Work deadlines, money problems, nagging spouses and noisy children. Whatever is wearing you down and making it hard to manage your condition, try these four steps to stress-free diabetes. Unmanaged stress can wear you down quickly, mentally and physically. When that happens it can send your blood sugar soaring and get in the way of maintaining control of it.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), stress may cause a rise in hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
➡ When you meet a perceived threat your hypothalamus (a tiny region at the base of your brain) sets off an alarm system in your body.
➡ Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
- Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies.
- Cortisol, the main stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, boosts your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances in your body that repair tissues.
Cortisol also subdues unnecessary or damaging functions if you find yourself in a fight-or-flight situation.
- In addition, it alters the response of your immune system and slows down your digestive system, the reproductive system, and the growth process.
And it’s because people with diabetes who either don’t produce insulin or have significant insulin resistance can’t effectively deal with the effects of these hormones.
As a result, their blood sugar levels rise.
It’s a heck of a tough way to manage, but it’s a lot easier if you practice the four steps to stress-free Diabetes.
And – as you know – over time, high blood sugar levels can lead to a number of complications, including:
- heart disease
- vision loss
- kidney disease
- We can also blame stress for higher blood pressure, headaches and difficulty breathing (shortness of breath).
Enough of that! We may not be able to avoid stress completely, but we can take steps to manage it and stay in control of Diabetes.
Fortunately, there are healthy ways to deal with it. Take a look at these four steps to stress-free Diabetes.
1. Use exercise to your advantage
Because exercise increases your body’s production of “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain, it helps with mild depression and anxiety.
➡ Over time, it can also have a positive effect on blood sugar control.
Just make sure to follow the recommendations for nutrition and hydration before, during and after exercising found here.
2. Practice Relaxation
Try deep-breathing exercises for several minutes twice a day.
Another relaxation option is progressive relaxation therapy, which shows you how to tense and then relax your muscles to relieve stress.
3. Work towards a diabetes-friendly lifestyle. A good nutrition program (you can get one here) can help you feel healthy and well nourished, which can significantly cut your stress while keeping your blood sugar levels within normal range.
And don’t forget the importance of getting enough good-quality sleep.
4. Be more efficient in managing your diabetes self-care. You can cut your stress by becoming more organized.
➡ Think and plan ahead for what you’ll need to do the next morning and if possible, set things up the night before.
➡ Prepare your lunch and snacks before you go to sleep at night.
➡ Set out your clothing, so you don’t have to decide what to wear when the sun comes up.
These time-saving tips may seem obvious, but more people don’t practice them than those that do. They’ll allow you to have more time in the morning to check your blood sugar, eat breakfast, exercise, and meditate or practice some yoga moves.
If you try them, you’ll agree that it’s one of the best of the four steps to stress-free Diabetes.
Just having diabetes is stressful in itself because it affects your life 24/7. Even on vacation, it goes with you.
➡ That means your blood sugar testing must be done no matter where you are.
➡ Maintaining a healthy diet can also be challenging and stressful on a daily basis.
➡ Keeping all of your medical appointments and managing your medical paperwork can also be a significant source of stress.
That plus whatever other stressors you live with can wear you out. So, sometimes it’s easy to let part or even all of your diabetes management go by the wayside.
Check in with your doctor or diabetes educator. They may be able to suggest changes to your medication, nutrition, and exercise plans to make it easier for you to cope.
Most of all, don’t try to manage it alone. Reach out to a friend, family member or member of the diabetes community, reach out to me by using the Get In Touch Link on the top menu of any page. I’m here to help.
It’s all about enjoying your life by practicing these four steps to stress-free diabetes.