Diabetes & Stress: How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels?

To succeed in any aspect of life, everyone needs motivation. Not many know but motivation is a form of stress, a positive stress though. It allows your brain to take actions which can help you survive and grow in this world. However, if the stress is caused by physical or mental strain, it can significantly affect a person’s body, and even brain. In addition, if a person is diabetic too, managing blood sugar levels can be extremely difficult during stress.

Cause of Stress

Stress can be caused by anything from excessive physical labour to emotional tensions in career, relationships, financial insecurity, loneliness, health or even traffic jams.

diabetes and stress

Symptoms of Stress

While mental or psychological stress may be tough to estimate from the surface, it may sometimes manifest physically in the form of any of the following signs.

1. Increasing Introvertedness and withdrawal from social life.

2. Heavy smoking or alcohol consumption.

3. Obsessive disorders like eating too much or too little.

4. Anxiety and fatigue.

5. Sleeping disorders

How Stress Affects Diabetes?

In the following paragraphs, we shall analyze the relationship between stress and diabetes. Diabetes is caused by increased blood sugar levels in the body. When the body feels stressful, it activates a mechanism called fight-to-flight response. It boosts up the hormone levels and starts releasing hormones like adrenaline & cortisol in the bloodstream. In a healthy person, there are mechanisms in the body which help to cope with the increased release of these hormones. However, in a body that is already coping to deal with the increased sugar levels, it’s no longer able to deal with aggravated sugar. These mechanisms are stunted in a diabetic patient. This can lead to worsening of diabetes, heart muscle rupture, stroke or even death.

Stress is known to be a major factor which hinders the smooth treatment and management of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, mental stress is known to either increase or decrease the blood sugar and glucose levels, while in type 2 diabetes, mental stress increases the level of blood sugar. Physical stress which can be caused by accident. Injury and other things are known to increase the blood sugar and glucose levels in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

So, can stress cause diabetes? As is clear from above, stress can be a major contributor to causing diabetes. Ways in which stress affects diabetes can be many. A few of them include:

  • If you are under stress, it becomes difficult for you to take care of yourself.
  • You tend to drink and the amount of physical exercise also reduces. All this is harmful to managing diabetes effectively.
  • A few patients tend to eat a lot more than required when it comes to stress. They feel that one of the ways of relieving stress is eating good food. This is particularly harmful to managing diabetes.
  • A few people go for quick fix solutions like chips, fries, etc. in order to release themselves from stress. This again is very harmful to the effective management of diabetes.
  • Even if you are not diabetic at the time, increased body weight, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical exercise could lead to diabetes.

How to Realize That You Are Under Stress?

As discussed above, it is very important to manage stress in our day to day lives. The root cause of most of the unhealthy habits is stress in people. However, the problem aggravates when you are a diabetes patient. In type 1 and type 2 diabetes, therefore, it is of utmost importance that you realize you are under stress. Only after this realization can you take necessary steps and release yourself from the same. The majority of us realize that when either we ourselves or any of our family members are under stress when they are suffering from some illness. However, stress can take place from a hectic schedule and during holidays as well. Hence, one of the effective ways is to just notice the level of stress and jotting the same down in a piece of paper while you are checking the blood glucose levels. This is usually how a few patients recognize the effect on the blood sugar levels owing to stress.

How to Prevent Stress In Diabetes?

Reducing stress levels may not appear easy but here are a few means by which you can do that.

1. Meditation

Engaging in deep meditation can highly improve the stressed condition. It doesn’t require a formal or religious setting. Just take a few minutes of your morning time to sit back and relax in solitude. If you feel comfortable, you can read a mantra and chant slowly in your mind.

2. Watching Sensations

Though this is a high-level Buddhist meditation, it can be practiced at a basic level. Just make yourself comfortable, sit in a relaxed posture and start observing the sensations going on in your body. Sensations may feel like itching, rising, falling, burning or even vibrating. Watch them pass as you inhale more deeply. This is a great way to relieve emotional stress.

3. Sports, Exercise and Yoga

Sports, aerobics and yoga are considered one of the best ways to release stress. 15 minutes of yoga, exercise and any sports every day can significantly improve help in absorbing blood glucose in diabetes patients.

4. Therapy

If the diabetes-stress combination seems uncontrollable, you can consult a physician to guide you how to control your blood sugar levels and manage stress.

5. Discussion

In case of stress due to work pressure or family, the best thing you can do is to discuss your condition with a closed one. This to some point releases tension and make things fall in peace.

6. Besides, you can also consult your doctor and take an anti-anxiety Also, try to avoid all those food stuff which stimulate hormones that produce stress in the body. For example, in order to avoid stress, a few people cut out on caffeine completely.

7. You can take up a hobby and practice it when you feel you are under stress. If you like painting or dancing, watching movies, etc. include these activities in your day to day live in order to feel better and de-stress yourself.

Diabetes may not be curable but it is absolutely possible to lead a happy lifestyle with it. If you understand this, more than half of the stress if already treated. Don’t over think and do take your insulin.

Thus, there is a direct relationship between diabetes and stress and stress can definitely cause diabetes by leading the blood glucose levels to rise. In today’s fast-pacing world, stress seems to be as common as eating food and drinking water. Having said that, there are ways and mechanisms to deal with stress levels and keeping the blood glucose levels under control should not be too difficult a task!!

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