What You Can Do Now
Although diabetes can present a different set of challenges, its possible to manage it effectively and lead a happy, healthy lifestyle. You can do this by adding short, meditative sessions or small workouts to your daily routine. You can also look into support groups and find one that best suits your personality and lifestyle needs. Being proactive can help ease the tension in your life.
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“!
Stress Raises Blood Sugar Levels
Why does extra tension in your body cause your blood sugar to go up even if you havenât eaten anything? There are a number of factors that go into this, but a primary reason is that stress triggers the body to release cortisol, which is a hormone that helps the body get through tough situations .When cortisol comes out to play, your heart rate and breathing speed up. This also sends glucose and protein stores from your liver into the blood to make energy immediately available to your muscles. In other words, your body releases sugar into the blood so that the energy can get throughout your system. The result: higher blood sugar levels.
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Stay Organized To Improve Your A1c And Lower Stress
Staying organized about all the aspects of your care doctors appointments, at-home blood-glucose monitoring, medication schedules can help with overall diabetes management. According to past research, maintaining solid organizational practices are linked to lower chronic cortisol levels, and finding a diabetes-management routine that works for you will also reduce the risk of health complications.
What Happens When Your Cortisol Stays High
If youre under constant stress, your cortisol levels will stay high.
And so will your blood sugar levels.
Can you guess the impact this has on your health?
Chronically high cortisol can lead to a host of diseases and health problems, including :
But this isnt the only issue.
Another problem that chronically high cortisol can cause is insulin resistance.
What does this mean for you?
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Stress Activates Our Fat Cells
That isnât the end of the story for cortisol. Cortisol also triggers an enzyme in our fat cells that helps relocate fat from storage deposits around the body to fat cell deposits deep in the abdomen, also known as visceral fat cells. Stress can actually cause many people to accumulate more belly fat. The more stress you have, the more cortisol is in your body and the more abdominal fat youâll find.In studies, these central fat cells have been linked to not only a greater risk for heart disease, but also a higher risk for diabetes. If you already have diabetes, your condition can grow worse because of an overall elevated level of stress and cortisol in your system.Not only that, but cortisol also increases food cravings, which are already hard to manage with diabetes.
Stress-induced cortisol increases food cravings, making it even harder to manage your dietBut it’s ok to snack! If you haven’t had a chance to see it, we’ve posted a blog on 5 “Swap” Food that Decrease Stress. Just remember, everything in moderation.
How To Keep Cortisol At Bay
There are several ways you can help keep your cortisol levels under control.
Naturally, theres exercise which helps improve virtually all aspects of your health.
But we also have other, perhaps even more effective methods.
These include meditation, eating the right foods, and taking natural anti-stress nootropics.
See for yourself:
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What About The Glycemic Index
Your daily carb total, spread steadily across the day, is one key to good blood sugar control. Some people also use the glycemic index , a rating of how individual foods raise blood sugar levels. Beans and whole-grain breads and cereals have a lower GI than white bread and regular pasta. Juice has a higher GI than whole fruit. Craving a high-GI food? Eat it along with a lower-GI choice to help control your levels.
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Stress Affects Your Blood Pressure
Letâs go back to the hormone cortisol for a moment. Another one of cortisolâs functions is to narrow the arteries throughout the body in order to allow blood to pump harder and faster through the rest of the body. In fight-or-flight situations, this is advantageous because delivery of oxygenated blood throughout the body.However, constant stress over time keeps the blood vessels constricted and keeps your blood pressure high. Over time this high blood pressure can worsen many of the complications of diabetes, including diabetic eye disease and kidney disease. In fact, many people with diabetes eventually develop high blood pressure.It is no wonder that diabetes and hypertension often go hand-in-hand. Looking out for one can help prevent or alleviate the other.
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The Effect Of Stress On Blood Sugar
Stress triggers an increase in the body’s levels of the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol, as if you were under attack, explains Roger McIntyre, MD, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Toronto in Canada. In response, the body releases extra energy into the bloodstream in the form of glucose.
When chronically heightened, cortisol works against glucose control even in people who dont have diabetes, Dr. McIntyre says. Yet people with diabetes are unable to properly process and store that glucose because of insulin resistance, meaning that glucose accumulates even more in their blood in times of stress.
Everyone gets stressed out at times, but its important to understand that theres a difference between short-term and long-term stress, he says. While lifes inevitable acute stressors getting stuck in traffic, bickering with a family member cause a temporary rise in blood sugar, its the factors that can lead to chronic stress, such as an unhappy marriage, a cruel boss, or the COVID-19 quarantine, that can cause serious damage.
Diabetes is even considered to be an independent factor in the development of depression, according an analysis published in June 2019 in Preventive Medicine Reviews. That means that if you take two otherwise identical people, the one with diabetes is significantly more likely to struggle with depression.
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How To Reduce Anxiety
First, lets be clear: If youre experiencing anxiety, we want to know about it. We care about much more than your physical health. We know that mental health is an important part of your overall well-being.
We care about our patients, and we are always in your corner, ready to help you.
Following are some useful tips for reducing anxiety:
- Any type of physical activity, even if its just a quick walk around the block during your lunch break.
- Reducing or eliminating your alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Getting enough sleep
If your anxiety continues for more than two weeks or if youre finding it difficult to complete everyday activities, you should consider talking to a counselor or psychologist who can provide help and direction. We can provide a referral if needed.
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How Are Stress And Blood Sugar Related
Stress whether it is related to relationships, to work, or to some other aspect of life can cause blood sugar levels to go up. It happens mainly due to the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, which raise your blood sugar level to provide you with more energy. It is natural because of the fight-or-flight response. Your blood sugar levels need to be elevated for you to be able to fight danger. However, it becomes difficult for your body to manage this spike in blood sugar when there is already insufficient insulin in your body due to diabetes, which is the reason why stress in any form can contribute to elevated levels of sugar in your blood.
Risks When Stressed
There is definitely connection between stress and blood sugar, but what exactly are the risks associated with this? If you have diabetes and are constantly under stress, it will become difficult to manage your blood sugar levels. Constantly elevated blood sugar levels will lead to several health complications, including kidney problems, blindness, and nerve damage, which can cause food numbness and serious infections. Not taking steps to control your blood sugar levels will also result in cardiovascular complications and you will be at a greater risk of having strokes and heart attacks.
Stress And Blood Sugar
Many people think they only need to watch out for how much carbs they consume while trying to control their blood sugar. What you should also know is that if you have Type 2 diabetes, a number of factors can affect your blood sugar levels. Your blood glucose levels may change due to an illness and little sleep. Monthly menstrual cycles can also hurt your efforts to manage your blood sugar. What’s more, there is a connection a between stress and blood sugar and you need to know about it to manage your condition better.
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How Surgery Affects Blood Sugar
The stress of an operation, along with potential changes in lifestyle, diet, and exercise before and after surgery, can dramatically change your glucose levels. While everyone’s at risk for high blood sugar levels after surgery, people with diabetes face even greater risks.
While the exact reason for this cannot always be determined, there are a few different factors that may be at play. The physical trauma associated with surgery can result in an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, along with catecholamines , both of which may result in increased insulin resistancea lack of sensitivity to normal levels of insulin, requiring more and more insulin to remove glucose from the bloodstream.
Additionally, high levels of insulin often seen in diabetes can make arteries and veins less flexible, restricting blood flow that leads to slower healing times and poor circulation to the heart and other organs.
Caution: Birth Control Pills
Types that have estrogen can affect the way your body handles insulin. Still, oral contraceptives are safe for women with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association suggests a combination pill with norgestimate and synthetic estrogen. The group also says birth control shots and implants are safe for women with the condition, though they can affect your blood sugar levels.
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Niacin To Bring Down Bad Cholesterol
Niacin is a B vitamin available as an over-the-counter supplement. It can have cholesterol-lowering effects, but like statins, it can also raise blood glucose in people with diabetes. A study published in February 2016 in the journal Heart also concluded that niacin increases the risk of developing diabetes in the first place.
Corticosteroids To Lower Inflammation In Arthritis Asthma Allergies And Joint Injuries
These drugs are used to treat many conditions associated with inflammation, including arthritis, asthma, allergies, and joint injuries. Corticosteroids used in inhalers or skin creams arent likely to affect blood glucose because they dont enter the blood stream in great enough quantities. But those that are injected or ingested by mouth can significantly increase blood glucose, says Timothy In-Chhu Hsieh, MD, chief endocrinologist at the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center in California.
“If it’s only a short-term treatment, there won’t be too long of an effect and it may not influence things a great deal, but if it’s being used for several days or weeks, then the sugar level can go higher and be a significant problem,” he says. If thats the case, you can work with your doctor to adjust your diabetes medication to keep glucose under control.
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How To Combat Stress
So how can you reduce stress so that it has less of an effect on your blood sugar control?
Well, to some extent that depends on the nature of your stress. Anything in life that is stressing you out thats fixable, you should work to fix. That stupid toilet that runs all night and disturbs your sleep? Get it repaired. Thats easy. But sometimes its harder: The boyfriend or girlfriend who always puts you down? Time to break up. Not all that easy to do, although it will improve your health on multiple levels.
Meanwhile, things that stress you out that you cant fix, but that you can avoid, you should avoid. Your sister drives you nuts? Youre not required to visit her, you know.
Lastly, of course, there are things in life that you cant fix and you cant avoid, and these you need to develop ways to deal with. Sometimes this involves changing your mental attitude toward it. Other times its the use of stress-relief tools, like exercise to burn off that fight or flight sugar, or hot baths and aroma therapy candles to drown the stress so that your body stops releasing the sugar.
Some of the most tried-and-true stress relief tactics are:
- Exercise of any kind
How To Control Stress
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Roller Coaster: Female Hormones
When a woman’s hormones change, so does their blood sugar. Keep a monthly record of your levels to get a better idea of how your menstrual cycle affects you. Hormone changes during menopause may make blood sugar even harder to control. Talk to your doctor about whether hormone replacement therapy is a good idea.
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.
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Natural Treatment For High Blood Pressure
Preventing high blood pressure is key, however, there are natural treatment options available that could help to reduce your blood pressure.
Managing stress with meditation or deep-breathing exercises Quit smoking Eating more food rich in calcium and magnesium
Eating foods rich in potassium can help
In Addition to the options listed above, there are several natural supplements that may also help to lower blood pressure or prevent it from elevating, to begin with.
Dealing With Diabetes Can Cause Anxiety
Lets face it: Controlling diabetes is hard work. That in itself is enough to cause worry and stress. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, those with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to experience anxiety than those without the disease.
We understand this, and were dedicated to helping alleviate your worry by working together as a team to address any distressing issues.
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Is Stress The Source Of Your Blood Sugar Swing
Right now, COVID-19 stress can feel like a given and if something causes you stress, it can also trigger an increase if your blood sugar level.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you know that certain foods particularly foods that are high in carbohydrates can send your blood glucose level through the roof. But did you know that theres a long list of other factors, such as too little sleep, illness, even monthly menstrual cycles, that can sabotage your best efforts to stabilize your blood sugar?
High on that list, though you may not be aware of it, is stress.
Whether its related to work, to relationships, or to some other aspect of your life, research has continually shown that emotional stress can cause blood sugar to surge, according to the American Diabetes Association . And because consistent management of blood sugar is the key to living a healthy life with type 2 diabetes, its important to understand how stress affects you and to find healthy ways to cope when mental distress mounts.
Thats especially true right now when the novel coronavirus is top of mind and everyones stress level is sky-high. In addition to heightening health worries, the COVID-19 pandemic comes with immense economic and daily living stressors. Whether youve lost your job, are working from home, helping your kids with e-learning, or quarantined by yourself, its natural to feel stress.
As if stress werent bad enough on its own, it can contribute to irregular blood-sugar levels.