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

Man stressed out

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?Irritability
  • 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

Yoga and meditation

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:

  1. 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.
  2. For some things, just try shrugging it off and laughing about it. After all, laughter IS the best medicine.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. Sleep. Not all day and night of course. Get your solid 8 hours and go to sleep at the same time each night.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

Trying to juggle stress

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.

Final thoughts

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!

 

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20 Comments

Richard Brennan · April 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm

I’m not diabetic but I have battled with depression for over 20 years and the information here on how to recognize and manage stress – and as a result, relieve depression – is invaluable.
I do have a diabetic friend, however, and I will certainly point her in the direction of this site.

    Rob Sciubba · April 4, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Sorry to hear about your depression Richard. I hope your friend reads this and it helps her with her diabetes.

Anna · April 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm

I can certainly agree that 8 hours of solid sleep is very helpful when you’re stressed – you tend to see everything in a different light, when you wake up well rested. And being with nature is a great thing to get some peace in your head and silence the nagging thoughts about mundane stuff.. once you get that perspective they all seem insignificant and quite often you start realising that all the important stuff is right here in front of you or somehow present in your life.
Talking through a problem also can be invaluable – its like cleansing your mind. Sometimes just saying something out loud makes you realise that you can deal with it if you dont let it consume you.
Either way – great stuff and really helpful article.

    Rob Sciubba · April 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Since there are so many things that can cause stress, it is imperative to get stress under control because it affects not only diabetes but our health overall. I like nature and peaceful situations and also being able to vent with a friend. These do relieve stress for me and I’m sure for many others.

Blesso · April 6, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Hello there! It’s a valuable info out here. I can relate here how stress has led my dad to Type 2 Diabetes because of his busy work schedule and lifestyle. We didn’t have any family history of Diabetes though. It’s indeed true that stress of all kind and sedentary lifestyle patterns have taken the toll on all our health lately. As you have rightly put only the solution here is regular exercise, diet and a tight 8 hours sleep can keep Diabetes at bay.
Thank you.

    Rob Sciubba · April 6, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Stress affects everyone in so many different ways. Some people handle better than others. With diabetes, you particularly want to avoid stress at all costs. The best thing anyone can do is to address it and make a plan to change your lifestyle and change reactions to stressful situations.

Elizabeth Conley · April 7, 2017 at 3:06 am

Have you explored the connection between anxiety, type II diabetes and magnesium?

I think you’ll find there’s a strong corollary.

( I applaud you disclosure that vitamin D is a factor – I agree. People in middle age begin to have a decline in their ability to produce and utilize vitamin D, so supplementation can be a great alternative. Vitamin D tends to aid in longer, deeper, more restful sleep. Since this is a big challenge for many of us in the forty-plus crowd, vitamin D should be on the go-to list of sleep solutions. Obviously, better sleep can help manage anxiety.)

Magnesium is a well-known supplement for alleviating severe anxiety – often better than psychotropic drugs and with no significant side effects. What is less-known is that there is scientific evidence of magnesium deficiency in most diabetic individuals. Diabetics excrete magnesium at greater rates, and paradoxically – require it at the same rate or greater than people with normal metabolisms.

I strongly suggest magnesium citrate to bowel tolerance as an appropriate supplementation for both diabetes and anxiety – particularly hypervigilance. Many people with post-traumatic stress find that this supplement makes a world of difference. It is very powerful.

If it doesn’t work – no harm done. Magnesium supplementation is quite safe for the vast majority of people.

All the best,

Elizabeth

    Rob Sciubba · April 7, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    I’ve read a lot about magnesium as of late. Magnesium is good for the heart, increasing energy, helping with digestion, and as you mentioned anxiety.There are so many things that we are deficient in. I’m passionate about vitamin D because it’s that important for my health.

    I’m going to do more research on magnesium. Let’s add magnesium to the list along with vitamin D. I appreciate your comments Elizabeth!

ros · April 8, 2017 at 5:36 am

Hi Rob,
Your singing my song or should I say preaching to the converted but Im still all ears! I love a good tune! My (ex) partner is diabetic and he had the lot in terms of the things you listed above around the effects of stress! A confirmed workaholic , everything and anything came before his health to the point that when he was diagnosed ad diabetic he was in denial , telling people that “he’d beat it ” and that he was only “borderline” !! LOL! Being a nurse (ex, another “ex” in my life that Ive given the boot !!) I used to say there’s no “borderline”diabetes , you either are or you aren’t ! AND HE IS !!! Sure, there’s metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance in the lead up to diagnosis but diabetes is diabetes is diabetes!!!
He also had high blood pressure , ED, weight gain, irritability and hair loss so I had a real doozy on my hands !!!!
I’m the other extreme in that I have had immune issues such as hyperthyroidism, discoid lupus and I developed coeliac disease a few years ago BUT I treated all of them with (mostly ) natural therapies! My nursing days taught me that there are alternatives/adjuncts that can be used with or instead of medical treatments , many of which have complications of their own which then need more drugs to counteract their side effects!
Great info , lots I didn’t know about and if I have the chance to it on I certainly will!
Ros

    Rob Sciubba · April 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I agree with you Ros. If you have it, then you have it. Accept it and attack it with your knowledge and get it under control. It sounds like you’ve been through a lot but have learned through all of your past experiences. I applaud you for being a nurse and going the natural way. Medications can also cause complications and I’m sure you know that. Once you start taking care of yourself, you begin to feel so much better both physically and mentally. None of us want or need any disease or health issues. We just have to finally decide that we’ve had enough and know what we have to do and then just do it. It’s just accepting and taking that first step.

Heather · April 9, 2017 at 4:26 am

I really loved your article on natural ways to lower your blood sugar. I am always keenly aware of my sugar intake, as i can see first hand the negative benefits of increased sugar intake. Thank you for your beneficial article on this subject. It really increased my overall understanding. Thank you very much. Take Care, Heather

    Rob Sciubba · April 9, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    And sometimes our increased sugar intake comes from stress. Sugar is no good if you have too much OR too little. I read all labels now and try and stay away from anything stressful. To your good health!

Sharon · April 13, 2017 at 6:28 am

Hi Rob,

I was reading on the symptoms of stress and one of it that caught my attention was stomach pain. Yes, stomach pain can be caused by stress.

A couple of years back, I had this pain for weeks that wouldn’t go away. X-ray done, ultrasound, CT scan done but doctor could not find the answer to this stomach pain. A month or so went by and I self diagnosed the problem by reading a lot over the internet. It is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and IBS can be caused by stress. So, the main culprit is STRESS.

I need not say how I managed it because you have said it all! Great article you have here.

Best of Health,
Sharon

    Rob Sciubba · April 13, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    I’m glad you found out what it was and addressed it. They say that stress kills. It’s responsible for so many health issues both physically and mentally. It’s important to learn how to control stress so that we live longer healthier lives. Sometimes I see people who seem to handle stress relatively easy, but I often wonder if they bottle it up inside and don’t show, which is worse. If you have stress under control, I applaud you!

Rina · April 19, 2017 at 7:08 am

Thank you for a great article. I haven’t be diagnosed with anything but I am big on preventative measures and you have great advice here. So much so, I’m going to use all of the measures to reduce my stress. I’m 58 and I feel it is just a matter of time unless I routinely manage my stress so thanks a bunch – a wonderful article 🙂

    Rob Sciubba · April 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Yes Rina they say that stress is a killer. We should all take preventative measures against any health issues especially diabetes. But stress has so many other affects on our body. Learning how to think before we act in a stressful situation is the key to controlling stress and not letting it control you. Thank you and good luck Rina

LaurenK · June 1, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Thank you for creating this Article. I think I have quite a lot of these symptoms … I don’t suffer from Diabetes but a lot of the time I can become very stressed, uneasy and moody. I just put it down to hormones but when you really think on it a lot does come from stress related situations and with the tips on how to reduce these symptoms I will be taking a lot on board going to save your article in favorites so I can look at it again and again.

Thanks for the post 🙂

    Rob Sciubba · June 2, 2017 at 1:15 am

    Being moody and having stress can add to diabetes or become a complication of it at some point. Stress is unhealthy generally, so we all need to control stress to be on better health. We should learn to deal with difficult problems in other ways. I hope you succeed in controlling things when it comes to hormones as well.

Carthik · June 1, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Hi Rob,

Thank you for some useful tips on how to deal with Stress and Diabetes. Stress and Diabetes are directly proportional to each other. The more a diabetic person is stressed out, the higher his sugar level goes.

I would like to share my views on the tips provided to reduce diabetes stress. Though some of the tips mentioned are very useful, I feel, it’s easier said than done. As over the years, we have, with or without our conscience, made a habit to not take things easy when the situation arises. For instance, when we have had a huge fight with one of our relative or friend, we will not be inclined to take things easy and forget or laugh it out.

This happens as our mind and body are not in sync. The synchronization (of body and mind) can happen, through Yoga, followed by Meditation (as you have mentioned in your 6th point). There are many Yoga asanas which help relieve stress and also control blood sugar.

    Rob Sciubba · June 2, 2017 at 12:58 am

    Many things always seem to be easier said than done. Stress is an important thing to avoid with it being relative to diabetes. Stress adds to it big time. You want to keep stress and diabetes at a minimum. Having fights happen but it just takes a few seconds to think before reacting to make a stressful situation that much less. I agree that yoga and meditation are positive acts to take part in for the reduction of stress.

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