If you have diabetes, you may have noticed a change in your blood glucose levels when you are stressed. Does stress affect diabetes? Research says that there is a connection between stress and diabetes. Stress is bad for diabetes, and it is extremely important to manage stress in order to manage diabetes.
Learning how to manage stress is important for everyone, but it’s especially important when you have diabetes as your body’s stress response can make your diabetes worse. Increased stress leads to an increased production of the hormone cortisol, which causes your body to produce more glucose and fat, which can adversely affect your blood glucose levels. Many people also consume more food, especially sugary food such as cake, chocolate, and ice-cream, and carbohydrate rich foods, such as chips and fizzy drinks when they are stressed, which can also lead to a spike in your blood glucose levels.
There are many steps you can take to manage your stress and better control your diabetes. Below are 5 stress reduction tips for diabetes:
1) Exercise Regularly
Exercise is great for diabetes stress management. It not only makes you feel physically better, but mentally as well. Physically, exercises such as yoga, walking, running, cycling, dancing, team sport, and swimming, lower your blood pressure and help control your blood sugar levels. Exercise helps with your mental well-being as it reduces anxiety, depression, and negative moods and releases endorphins, chemicals in your body that make you feel good.
2) Practice Meditation And Mindfulness
Meditating for 10 minutes a day and practicing mindfulness have both been scientifically proven to work. Meditation and mindfulness lower cortisol levels in the body, lowering stress levels, and with them, blood glucose levels as well. You can join meditation and mindfulness groups, or you can download apps or watch videos of guided meditation and mindfulness sessions.
3) Quit Binging When Stressed
You probably already watch what you eat since you are diabetic, but it’s important to eat the right foods for stress levels as well. We often indulge in junk food such as ice-cream and chips, replacing meals with them without understanding that we’re replacing the nutrients our body should be getting with unhealthy sugars and fats.
These unhealthy foods may make us feel like they’re helping us manage stress in the moment, but in the long-run, they can cause a spike in our blood glucose levels, and cause our body to accumulate fat. Instead of impulsively eating junk food when you are stressed, drink a glass of water instead, or do five jumping jacks. Take a walk around the house and busy yourself with something else. Remind yourself that eating junk food won’t help you feel better ultimately. Only healthy habits will.
4) Find Time To Relax
We all live increasingly busy lives- which result in increasing levels of stress. Although it seems impossible, we must do something daily to relieve stress for our blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and mental and physical wellbeing in general. Find at least one hour a day for relaxation. Relax by doing an activity you like, such as reading a book, painting, or baking. Try and choose an engaging activity for maximum relaxation- watching TV is fine, but moving your body and creatively engaging your mind will give you a whole new level of peace and relaxation.
5) Talk To People In The Same Boat
It is hard for those who are not diabetic to understand the problems and stress of people who do have diabetes. Having to watch what you eat, check your glucose monitoring device, visiting- your doctor- it is all stressful, and the stress is here to stay.
Talking to people in the same boat as you can help relieve the stress. You can find a support group on Facebook or make a group of friends you know who are diabetic and catch up once a week to share your problems and empathise with each other. Feeling like you aren’t alone always helps.