First things first: identify it
Do you have diabetes? Do you have stress? Are you worried about it? I’ll bet you answered yes to at least one of these questions, if not all three? They go hand in hand. It’s obviously not good to have diabetes and stress management will help in controlling it so it will benefit your health. Is being stressed the cause of diabetes? No. It’s one cause of becoming a diabetic. There are many reasons for being diagnosed with this terrible disease. This is just one of the major ones. For me and I’m sure zillions of other people, it leads to over eating and emotional eating and that brings us to being overwhelmed and can lead to high blood sugars and high cholesterol. Stress is an enemy. Let’s defeat it!
What stress does to you
Stress is the way you react to things in your life. Everyone knows what it is and what it can do to you. It does harm to you both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately there are numerous things that we come across every day in our lives that cause stress.
But it’s important to know how it negatively affects you. It will affect your body systems, such as: your kidneys, immune, digestive, and reproductive systems, and high blood pressure (which you should check often.) You make a million decisions a day. Some good, some bad. But it’s how you make your decisions because they are based on what stress you’re experiencing at the time. If you’re making poor decisions, it’s because you’re not thinking clearly. What you eat can also stress you out.
You don’t want to be a risk for other conditions such as depression. We all worry which is normal, but not to the point where it becomes stress related and affects our health. Diabetes is a serious condition that you want to control, but you don’t want to be overly stressed because that it adds to the possibility of contracting diabetes. Your management of diabetes can be affected by too much stress and:
- Affect the decisions you make and cloud your thinking
- Can increase your glucose levels at a fast and alarming rate
- Lead you to emotional and poor choice eating
- Can encourage rather strong emotional feelings
Identifying the symptoms of stress
- Irritability; Wow, how many things can cause irritability? A few thousand? More?
- Bad moods or depression; This is high on the list for sure.
- Excessive weight gain or weight loss; Very common symptom
- Relationships; spouse or significant other arguing
- Lack of concentration or memory; brain freeze?
- Nil in the sex department; Sex? What’s that?
- Panic attack; can be terrifying
- Fatigue; always being tired
- Heart palpitations; very alarming
- Grinding your teeth; causes unwanted dental problems as well
- Hives and rashes; this is very common and very uncomfortable
- Headaches; migraines are the worst
- Hair loss; I personally can attest to this one
- Stomach pain or uneasiness; not knowing if the cause is stress or not
- Negative thinking; worrying if something will happen
Unfortunately, this is just a small list of symptoms that cause stress. (as if it isn’t enough?) The everyday stress from these issues can make your blood sugar spike. Now while all of these are all possible causes, it’s your decision in each case as to how you see it and how you react to them. Because once you identify the problem at that given moment? Stop, think, and then act. Do NOT react. This may help you in controlling a situation better than if you reacted and flew off the handle as you might have always done in the past.
Tips to reduce diabetes stress
When you react or respond to your body’s interpretation of something negative or danger, the stress alarm goes off. I turn to ways to combat the reaction, which gives me the stress. Let’s take a closer look:
- Try not to” sweat the small stuff” as they say. Think first, then let the situation or “incident” roll off your back. 99% of things we worry about never happen anyway, so why sweat it? Your blood sugar levels don’t need to rise but should be monitored.
- For some things, just try shrugging it off and laughing about it. After all, laughter IS the best medicine.
- Forget it. Someone once told me to think about whatever it is for a bit and then say to myself: In an hour from now, will this even matter? Nope. Things get forgotten eventually anyway so why not do it immediately?
- Exercise. Don’t solve the problem with emotional eating. Exercising is powerful for relieving stress. Take a walk. Up a mountain, both ways. Ok, kidding, but walking will calm you down.No time? No excuse. You have 10-15 minutes. I do a bike ride every day outdoors or ride my exercise bike indoors. Do some stretching to avoid back pain as well.
- Sleep. Not all day and night of course. Get your solid 8 hours and go to sleep at the same time each night.
- Yoga and meditation. Yoga is excellent for you whether you practice it at a studio, gym, or at home. Deep breathing is also a great way to relieve stress. Your blood pressure will lower along with your blood sugar.
- Being with nature. This is extremely helpful for me. I love watching the waves in the ocean and walking along the shore. It’s totally mind blowing. Go to the park. Take in everything you see and hear, the trees, the birds, the blue sky. Go to the mountains when you can. I could just take in the scenery forever and it relaxes me so much.
- Talk to a close friend or family member. Do it in person if you can. Make a plan to meet. Set a time limit and get it off your chest, bur reciprocate too. It’s only fair. If they are stressed (and have diabetes too) it will be a great benefit for both of you.
Next, let’s eliminate unnecessary stress sources
Start to think about where your stress sources are coming from. Is something occurring everyday? Twice a day? Three or four times a week? Is it people? Events? Work? Home? Make a list and write it down and in order of importance.
You have to consider anything or anybody that is a source of your stress. Make a chart and grade them anyway you want from least amount of stress to the most stress that is caused to you. Edit and take action steps to remove them from your list.
You can’t control people. You can only control yourself. So do that. Learn to accept people the way they are and let it go. Whenever you don’t have to deal with them, don’t. This will help in eliminating some stress in your life.
Are you always late for appointments and functions and such? That’s in the past. Plan your time and arrive no less than 10 minutes before your appointment no matter what it is. So that means that driving can mean traffic and delays. Map and plan it out. Be patient. If you are ahead of your schedule, then you won’t be stressed out that you have to rush. Take your vitamin D and eat the proper foods before heading out the door. No quick junk food because that leads to belly fat which compromises your other organs. Have apple cider vinegar instead.
Are you disorganized? I used to be. For the most part, that’s history and it makes a difference. I used to get extremely stressed out by looking at all the clutter. Once I made up my mind to change and get organized? One less source of my stress.
How many things can you do at one time? Ok, sometimes we can do more than one thing. But concentrating on one task at a time is much easier on the brain. So stop trying to be Superman, or Superwoman and cut out the multitasking. One at a time. Everything will get done. Trust me.
This next one is really tough but it’s imperative. Difficult people. GEEZ! You can’t change them and dealing with them can be ultra stressful. The answer? Avoid them. Easier said than done, but give it the best effort you can. Stress level lowered once again!
Work. Do something that helps your attitude with work become positive. Go in and do the best work that you can. You can’t do more than that. If changing jobs is the only choice, start working on it. You need the job but not the headaches. Ok, I didn’t say it would be easy but nothing worthwhile ever is.
Be happy. Be grateful for everything you have no matter what your situation is. Stress is a huge negative that feeds the diabetes disease. Slow down. Become more patient and change your thoughts and avoid all the negativities that cause you stress you don’t need. Your body will function better with lower blood sugar numbers and having your diabetes under control, but you don’t want your numbers too low.
I’m happy if you learned something about stress and diabetes. But if you require something else to help you lower your blood sugar, this is for you! And if you have any questions about diabetes and stress management please leave a comment below. I’d be glad to hear from you!