Stress, both mental and physical, has been proven to elevate blood glucose. Management of stress can help in maintaining the sugar levels.
Whenever we think about the cause of diabetes, we usually focus on genetic factors, unhealthy eating habits, or lack of exercise that lead to obesity as the most common causes. While this is right, we often tend to forget an important cause of diabetes, i.e. stress.
Stress is “a physical, emotional or chemical factor that causes physical or mental strain and may be a factor in causing diseases.” Various diseases can be caused or worsened by stress, and diabetes is one of them.
How does stress affect blood sugar levels?
In the case of stressful situations, your insulin levels fall, and stress hormone levels rise, making it difficult for your insulin to function properly. Moreover, stress throws one off their daily routine, leading to worsening blood glucose levels. If you reach for junk food or alcohol/tobacco to deal with stress, it can make things worse.
Symptoms of stress
- Fast heartbeat
- Rapid breathing
- Upset stomach
Too much stress can also lead to depression. Diabetics are more likely to be depressed than an average person. You are at risk if you have any of the following symptoms-
- Feeling sad and irritable most of the times
- Losing interest in activities you enjoy
- Feeling worthless
- Getting too much or too little sleep
- Feeling fatigued all the time
These feelings of worthlessness and fatigue can hinder a person from practising self-care, further worsening his sugar levels. It is important to reach out for help. Depression can be treated with little self-awareness and guidance.
Management of Stress
People often do not realise that they are under stress, and even if they do, they deny it. Reduction of stress often leads to substantial improvement in diabetes.
Some ways of managing stress-
- Follow a routine
A set timetable adds structure to your day and may help you feel calmer even in stressful and uncertain times. Setting a timetable would make you less likely to oversleep, skip meals and medications. These small victories can distract you from your stress.
- Eat healthy food
Don’t pamper yourself with comfort food to deal with the stress. Instead, follow your usual healthy eating plan of balanced meals in healthy portion sizes.
- Exercise everyday
Being active helps in easing stress and balancing blood sugar levels. You should aim for 30 minutes of workout every day.
- Get good sleep
Research shows that when an individual does not get enough sleep, his hormone levels change to make it harder for the body to control his blood sugar levels. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, and aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
- Be mindful
Deep breaths, meditation and practising mindful behaviours might make you feel more relaxed. Studies have proven that regular yoga and meditation helps to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
The first step is to realise that everyone in the world is exposed to stress at some point in their lives. It is a part of our modern, fast-paced lives. Therefore, it’s good to own it as a challenge and not as a threat.