Is Stress Messing With Your Blood Sugar
Stress may raise glucose levels in your blood, leading to hyperglycemia and even diabetes. Learn how to control your condition.
Researchers have linked dozens of physical symptoms to stress overload, from fatigue to weight gain. You can add another symptom to that list: high blood sugar.
When you’re stressed, your body is primed to take action. This “gearing up” is what causes your heart to beat faster, your breath to quicken, and your stomach to knot. It also triggers your blood glucose levels to skyrocket. “Under stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, raising blood sugar levels to prepare you for action,” says Richard Surwit, PhD, author of The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution and chief of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, NC. If your cells are insulin resistant, the sugar builds up in your blood, with nowhere to go, leading to hyperglycemia.
We have no shortage of short-term stress in our livesfrom traffic jams to working long hours at a demanding joband our stress hormones, which were designed to deal with short-term dangers like fleeing predators, are turned on for long periods of time, even though we’re neither fighting nor fleeing. What we’re doing is stewing, which can cause chronically high blood sugar.
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No matter how busy you are, you can find ways to restespecially if you have diabetes. Here’s how:
Are Some People More Prone To Anxiety Than Others
Thats a difficult question, and theres no one correct answer.
Generally, both physical and psychological factors cause everyone to react to stress differently.
For example, genetics can play a role. Some genes that control the stress response may go into overdrive while for other people, they are under reactive.
Those who experience traumatic life events or are survivors of abuse may be more vulnerable to stress.
Still others may have a combination of factors.
Can Stress And Anxiety Raise Blood Sugar Levels
Raleigh Medical Group, P.A.Diabetes, General Posts, Mental Health, Stressblood sugar, diabetes, exercise, men’s health
Everyone experiences anxiety. In fact, studies show Americans are more stressed out than ever.
But can stress and anxiety actually raise the level of your blood sugar? And what does this mean for those who have diabetes?
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When Stress Strikes Closely Monitor Your Blood Sugar
When youre stressed, you should be monitoring and checking your sugars to see if the stress is having an effect or not, Dr. Belfort De Aguiar says. Simply being aware that stressful situations can affect blood sugar can prepare you to make adjustments. When youre under a lot of stress, thats when you want to be really on top of your blood sugar, Campbell says. Its the time to hone your self-care behaviors.
How Can Stress Affect Diabetes
At the dawn of time, our ancestors lived in a world of danger. When they were attacked by cave bears, it was a bad idea to stay calm. So whenever they saw danger, their brains sounded a stress alarm that put their bodies into action.
This ability to feel stress got passed down to us in the modern age. The problem is that our brains cant tell the difference between physical danger and social or emotional danger, so they all stress us out in the same way. So today, although bear attacks are less common, stress is a much larger part of our lives. In 2018, a Gallup poll found that 55% of Americans felt stress during a lot of the day, while 45% said they felt worried a lot when asked about how they felt the previous day
Stress can still be helpful when it helps us take on challenges, provided that we get some rest afterward. But when stress lasts for a long time, without giving us a chance to rest, it can do serious damage to our bodies. It can increase our risk for diabetes, or make our current diabetes worse.
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Can Stress Affect Blood Sugar Levels
Managing diabetes alone can be stressful and always staying within the normal range is always a big thing. But can stress affect blood sugar levels? Yes they do, and it is vital as a patient to learn how to manage it. I know we already have a lot to do in our lives and even small things like a traffic jam or running late can make our stress meter touch the other end of the dial. But since these stress hormones affect the glucose levels directly, it is essential that it be controlled.Can Stress Affect Blood Sugar? If So, How?
77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health.
There are two kinds of stress that can cause the blood sugars to rise.
- Physical Stress
When we talk about physical stress, it refers to:
Physical stress generally causes the blood sugar levels to rise.
On the other hand, mental stress causes mixed emotions and effects, depending on the type of diabetes that that patient is diagnosed with.
- For Type 1 Diabetes Mental stress tends to either increase or decrease the sugar levels in the body.
- For Type 2 Diabetes Mental stress only increases the blood sugar levels.
Keeping Your Blood Sugar Under Control During Anxiety: Raleigh Medical Group Can Help
This is a team effort.
Dont feel you have to go it alone.
For decades weve been the provider of choice in the Raleigh, Cary and Triangle areas. Our experienced, compassionate physicians and health care team are ready to guide you toward the healthiest life possible.
Scheduling an appointment is easyand now we even offer convenient telehealth appointments.
Dont let stress ruin your health. Contact us today.
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How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Level
GET THE SCOOPTwo types of stress can change blood sugar levels: Physical stress Mental or emotional stress. Each type of stress affects blood sugar levels differently. Physical stress generally causes blood sugar levels to increase. Physical stress includes:
Illness Surgery Injury Mental or emotional stress has mixed effects, depending on the type of diabetes you have:
Type 1 diabetes: Mental stress can increase or decrease blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes: Mental stress generally increases blood sugar levels.
Stress also can affect your blood sugar levels indirectly by causing you to forget about your regular diabetes care routine. When youre stressed out, you might:
Exercise more or less Not test your blood sugar level as often Forget or delay a dose of medication and/or insulin
MENTAL STRESS CAN AFFECT YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
Use your diabetes logbook to discover if mental stress affects your blood sugar levels, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. Some people with type 2 diabetes are very sensitive to stress. It causes the body to produce especially high levels of stress hormones, which drive blood sugar levels up.
FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO FIND OUT IF YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS ARE AFFECTED BY MENTAL STRESS:
1. Rate your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 indicates the lowest stress level and 10 the highest record your stress level in your logbook.
2. Test your glucose using your home monitor and enter the result.
3 WAYS TO REDUCE MENTAL STRESS
Can Stress Affect My Blood Sugar Levels
There are several ways that stress may affect your blood sugar levels. Stress induces the well-known fight-or-flight response, in which your body increases its levels of certain stress hormones. These, in turn, cause a rise in the amount of sugar in your blood, where it’s available to be used by your cells as fuel. If your body doesn’t have enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it has in order to get that blood sugar into your cells, your blood sugar levels remain high. Stress may also indirectly increase your blood sugar levels by causing you to abandon your good habits. When stressed, you may not eat well or exercise regularly, or you may drink more alcohol. These habits can cause your blood sugar levels to rise. In addition, you may not take time to check your blood glucose levels as often when you are stressed, so you may not be aware of the effects that the stress is having on your blood sugar levels. If you feel that stress is affecting your diabetes, talk to your doctor.
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S Toward Stress Reduction
One of the things you need to do in order to lessen the effect of stress on your blood glucose levels and improve your overall health is to take time in your daily life to rest whenever you can. The rest periods can be very short but they should be often because only through rest can you lessen your bodys cortisol level and improve your quality of life.
Rest is crucial for long-term spiritual and psychological well-being. If you dont take time out to reduce your stress levels, you can become ill. Scientists studying stress in the Netherlands reported that too much fatigue, also known as vital exhaustion causes demoralization, irritability, and fatigue. It may also increase your chances of getting a heart attack by 100 percent.
These are ways you can take time out of your life for rest and stress reduction:
Dont Let Stress Rule You
Managing your diabetes can often feel like walking a tightrope. And adding in stress management can feel daunting. But we are here to reassure you, you can do it!
As always, keep calm and regularly check your blood sugar and watch the trends in your CGM. If you take insulin, let it run its course when you make small corrections and avoid the angry bolus. Keep good records, use your mySugr App to track yourstressors, and let your coach or doctor guide you on good therapy choices.
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Anxiety Over Low Blood Sugar
A low blood sugar episode, which can include anything from confusion and shakiness to nausea, loss of consciousness, and seizures, can be very scary. It therefore makes sense that some people with diabetes also experience anxiety related to possibly having a low blood sugar episodeand not just as a physiological reaction to low blood sugar levels.
This anxiety is so common that the term “fear of hypoglycemia” is commonly used among physicians and researchers. Research has found that a history of experiencing mild hypoglycemia increases FoH in people who have diabetes.
What Happens In Your Body When You Get Stressed
Stress hormones have a big role to play.
When youre experiencing physical or emotional stress, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar. Cortisol and adrenaline are other primary hormones involved.
This is a perfectly natural response. For example, if youre being chased by a barking dog or youre in a dangerous situation, you need these hormones to prepare your body for a fight or flight situation.
But when youre stressed, your body releases these hormones, even if there isnt a major physical threat involved.
The result? Higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and a rise in blood sugar.
The problem becomes more complicated.
If youre consistently under stress, your hormones and sugar will continue to surge.
Over time, this can put you at risk for:
- Heart disease
This is one reason why its so important to treat your stress and anxiety.
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Taking Care Of Yourself When Stressed
When were stressed, we typically dont take good care of ourselves.
Theres a reason they call it comfort food. For most people, chocolate or fast food seems to be the first thing they reach for when were stressed.
Stress also makes it tempting to put off your regular exercise routine in favor of the couch and a Netflix binge.
These can all become deciding factors in a spike in blood sugar.
Need a solution? Get moving when youre stressed. Dont feel like you have to complete an extensive cardio routine. Often something as simple as a walk around the block can make a difference in your mood.
Can Stress Cause High Blood Glucose
It is commonly known that certain foods, illness and lack of exercise can increase blood glucose levels. However, another factor that can increase blood glucose levels is stress. Managing stress is quite complicated. To make it even harder, each type of stress can affect blood glucose levels differently. Its all highly individual. So, how can stress cause high blood glucose and what can you do about it?
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Is It Only ‘negative Stress’ That Affects Blood Sugar
Even positive life changes can cause blood sugar to swing, says Amy Campbell, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist, and a contributor to DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Planning a wedding, moving to a new city, getting a job promotion such happy stressors can also send your fight-or-flight hormones into overdrive.
A past review cited the definition of stress as the physiological or psychological response to an external stimulus, regardless of whether that stimulus is good or bad. That means that if you experience a significant change in your life whether it’s positive or negative its a good idea to keep an extra-close watch on your blood sugar.
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Identify Sources Of Stress
Being pregnant, preparing for a new baby and learning to manage gestational diabetes are stressful things on their own. But you also lead a life in the real world, with all it stresses and tensions.
Stress has many sources. Name some of your main sources of stress and see if you can identify an action to reduce or eliminate complications of gestational diabetes for you and your baby.
You might find that simply learning as much as you can about gestational diabetes will relieve much of your worry.
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The Wrong Way To Deal With Stress When You Have Diabetes
Food, alcohol, self-pity: These unhealthy coping mechanisms do more harm than good. When were stressed out, we turn to unhealthy food comfort food and we may start eating a lot of sweets, Belfort De Aguiar says. These are the wrong ways to cope with stress.
Also, find ways to reach out and find social connection with your loved ones. Campbell also warns against keeping your emotions bottled up inside. Be sure to share your stress, she says, even it just means having someone listen to you vent.
For more on dealing with diabetes burnout, check out Diabetes Daily’s article “How to Get Out of a Diabetes Rut“!
Handling Your Response To Stress
You have some control over your reaction to stress. You can learn to relax and this may reduce your bodys hormonal response to stress. There are often groups in your community, or books you can read, that teach relaxation techniques.
Some of these techniques are surprisingly simple and effective. There are a range of options to help you relax. For example:
Getting regular exercise
Consciously replacing bad thoughts with good ones
Whatever method you choose to relax, practice it. Just as it takes weeks or months of practice to learn a new sport, it takes practice to learn relaxation.
You can also often make quite simple lifestyle changes that can help reduce some of the stress factors. For example, if you always get very stressed when you get stuck in a traffic jam that makes you late for work, think about what other options are open to you. Would it be a more healthy option for you to walk to the railway station and take the train?
Take time to look at your life coolly and clearly. One way to do this is to imagine that you are a friend who has come to talk to you over the fact that their life is getting them down. What changes could that friend make in their life? Changes that would either reduce their stress levels or strengthen their ability to cope?
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How To Manage Your Stress Levels
Some forms of stress cannot be managed, especially if they are not frequent in nature such as a one-time traumatic event or an accidental injury. Other types of stress, such as taking care of family, work stressors, or any other day-to-day stressful situations, will likely be there permanently or semipermanently. These types of stressful events are the ones that need to be managed as best you can.
To do this, you can proactively plan ahead. This means being prepared for the regular stressors of life and managing your time, reading self-help books, or minimizing the source of stress as much as possible. Calming exercises such as yoga and meditation have also been proven to reduce stress levels. You will also want to avoid indulging in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating. It may seem comforting at the time, but it will not help to relieve the stress you are experiencing.
Setting realistic and manageable goals is also a big stress reducer for those with diabetes. Instead of focusing on a large and vague goal such as losing weight, setting a goal of walking for at least a half-hour every day on specific days of the week will be much more achievable.