stress and diabetes

Dealing With Stress Whilst Managing Diabetes

No matter how carefully you plan your life to avoid stress, life events happen that we have no control over - and that can cause stress. Events like illness, relationship problems, or break ups, and financial/work problems can hit us out of the blue.

Blood pressure and sugar levels can go up quite quickly - whether you're experiencing good or bad stress so it is very important to monitor these more frequently at these times.

Here's a video which may be helpful in explaining what happens when you're managing diabetes and stress.

Stress can have a significant impact on diabetes management and overall health. For individuals with diabetes, stress can affect blood sugar levels, complicate self-care routines, and potentially worsen the long-term health outcomes associated with the condition. Here's how stress and diabetes are interconnected:

  1. Blood Sugar Levels: Stress triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, especially in people with diabetes. This is because stress hormones cause the liver to release more glucose into the bloodstream, which can lead to higher blood sugar levels.

  2. Insulin Resistance: Chronic stress can contribute to insulin resistance, where the body's cells become less responsive to the effects of insulin. Insulin resistance can make it more challenging to control blood sugar levels effectively.

  3. Emotional Eating: Stress can lead to emotional eating or overeating, which can impact blood sugar control and weight management. People may turn to comfort foods high in sugars and unhealthy fats, which can lead to blood sugar spikes.

  4. Adherence to Self-Care: Stress can make it more difficult to adhere to diabetes self-care routines, including monitoring blood sugar, taking medication, and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen.

  5. Mental Health: The challenges of managing diabetes combined with stress can lead to anxiety and depression. Conversely, pre-existing mental health conditions can also affect diabetes management.

  6. Inflammation: Chronic stress can contribute to inflammation in the body, which is associated with various health problems, including heart disease, a condition that individuals with diabetes are already at an increased risk for.

  7. Complications: Prolonged exposure to stress and consistently elevated blood sugar levels can increase the risk of diabetes-related complications such as nerve damage, kidney disease, eye problems, and cardiovascular issues.

Managing stress effectively is important for individuals with diabetes to maintain overall health and improve diabetes management. Here are some strategies to help manage stress:

  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Practices like deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness can help alleviate stress.
  • Social Support: Connecting with friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional relief.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol can support stress reduction.
  • Time Management: Organizing tasks and setting realistic goals can reduce feelings of overwhelm.
  • Professional Help: If stress becomes overwhelming, seeking support from a mental health professional can be beneficial.

It's important for individuals with diabetes to communicate with their healthcare team about stress and its potential impact on diabetes management. Together, you can develop a plan to manage stress and optimise diabetes care.

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