The Impact of Stress if You Have Diabetes

The Impact of Stress if You Have Diabetes

The Impact of Stress if You Have Diabetes

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When you experience stress, your body produces stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that are meant to raise blood sugar.  Usually talked about as a “fight or flight” response, these hormones are meant to give you the energy you would need in dangerous situations. The elevation of such hormones over a period of time, however, can impact your health in the form of weight gain, changes in women’s menstrual cycles and libido, as well as high blood pressure.

These hormones affect people with diabetes in two main ways.

  1. With diabetes, outside efforts need to be administered in the form of insulin or oral medications in order to lower blood glucose levels.
  2. An increase in sugar isn’t completely necessary in these daily situations. Since we’re not necessarily running away from danger, that sugar sits in your system until it’s taken care of or released through urine which can cause damage to the kidneys.

Stress is a big player in our lives today. From stress at work to home life, final exams, relationships, illness, death in the family, financial security—the list is endless when it comes to the causes of stress we encounter on a daily basis.

Too much stress can impact our daily lives, relationships, jobs and health. If you have diabetes, believe it or not, stress can impact your blood sugar levels, too.

So, you ask, ‘how do I learn to manage this and work with the stressors in my life’?

Well, here are a few recommendations:

  • Consider changes to your insulin therapy or medications. Talk to your medical support team (doctors, nurses, diabetic educators) for helpful advice. They’re there to make sure that you’re as healthy as you can be.
  • Everyone reacts to stress differently. Know your body well enough to acknowledge signs of stress like illness, irritability and anxiety.
  • Be aware of the situations that bring stress to your life. Is there a way that you can avoid something that may be repeated?
  • Self-care is a big one. If you realize that work is getting to you, take a day for yourself. It’s not uncommon. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Find someone to talk to about your stressors. This can be your best friend or a family member. Getting it out helps!
  • Try to relax. Yes, everyone must tell you this one. But really. Count to 10 when you feel stress coming on strong. Get on a workout regimen. Get massages. Go for walks. Take a yoga class.

Being cognizant of your blood sugars is necessary and although a finger *** can be a literal pain, it’s better to know your glucose numbers than being left in the dark about them.

Stress may be a part of our everyday lives, but if we learn to manage it and understand the effects that it may have, we’ll be better educated to care for ourselves. Have questions? Leave them in the comments!

Originally published May 13, 2017; Revised 2018