Stress has a negative effect on your physical and mental health. It contributes to wear and tear of the body and distorts the function of your immune, renal, reproductive, and digestive systems. What’s more, it impairs your thinking and decision-making ability, increasing the risk of depression.
But, people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, should especially avoid stress and learn how to cope with it. Besides the consequences mentioned above, there are other reasons why people with type 1 and 2 diabetes should learn how to manage stress.
Here’s how stress affects those with diabetes.
Stress affects blood glucose levels in two ways. First, stress can make people with diabetes take less care of themselves. They might exercise less and eat more. Also, they could forget to check their blood sugar levels and have less time to plan healthy meals.
The other way stress impacts blood sugar levels is by causing fluctuations. According to studies, it can cause blood sugar ups and downs in people with type 1 diabetes. On the other hand, in people with 2 diabetes, it can only elevate their blood sugar levels.
That’s why learning how to cope with stress is crucial for those with diabetes.
Here are few tips to manage stress if you have diabetes:
Choose a specific time to go to bed that will allow you to sleep for 6-8 hours. Consistency along with getting enough sleep will help you reduce stress.
To avoid stress on days when you don’t have enough time to exercise, break it into more manageable amounts. For example, to meet the daily goal of 30 minutes of exercise, schedule a ten-minute walk after each meal. In that way, you will reach your goal without feeling stressed about it.
You can ease stress significantly by just breathing deeply while focusing on the moment and visualizing you let go of it. In fact, a 2012 study showed that meditation reduced psychological stress, depression, and diastolic blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes.
So, take a few minutes of your day to forget about everything and just breathe deeply.
Catching up with a friend, listening to your favorite music, watching your favorite TV series or just a funny YouTube video will help you relax and enjoy the small things in life. Learn how to accept reality and try not to feel stressed about irrelevant things such as slow-moving traffic.
If you find some time to enjoy the joys of everyday life, you won’t get easily stressed about trivial matters.
If you start feeling stress while at work, walk around the office for a few minutes, go to another part of your workplace, or just walk the steps a few times. If you are at home, walk around your rooms, or in your yard to let more oxygen enter your brain. This will significantly relieve the tension.
Get more comfortable by losing your clothes and removing your glasses and that extra shirt. Also, do some foot and toe stretches to relieve the tension in your feet.
You’ll be surprised how good it feels. Another thing you can do is a contract and relax muscles throughout your body, starting from your feet and legs, continuing through your abs and back, all the way to your shoulders and face.
Sometimes, the source of your stress is your diabetes management. Remembering all those things like taking medications, following a healthy diet, exercising, and regular blood sugar testing can easily cause stress.
But, you can help relieve it by making medication reminders, deciding to pack healthy lunch 3 days a week, or asking some close person to take some of the responsibilities related to purchasing, preparing, and cooking healthy foods.
Learning how to cope with stress is one of the best things you can do for your body and overall health. Since blood glucose levels are affected by stress, people with type 1 and 2 diabetes should be especially careful to avoid it, as well as deal with it the best they can.