You know the things you eat affect your diabetes. It’s easy to see the impact a brownie has on your blood sugar. You also know that exercise, your family history, and even your gender can play a role in the development and severity of your diabetes.
But do you know how stress is affecting your diabetes? One recent study has shown that stress increases the risk of getting type 2 diabetes in older women. But men are at risk too. Anyone with stress faces an increased risk of getting type 2 diabetes or seeing changes in your diabetes if you’ve already been diagnosed. Both physical and emotional stress can cause changes in your blood sugar levels, which can cause or worsen your diabetes.
When you have type 2 diabetes, any kind of stress can cause changes in your blood sugar levels.
- Mental stress, like worrying about work or family, typically increases blood sugar levels.
- If you experience physical stress, like if you’re sick or injured, you may also see an increase in blood sugar levels.
- Both “good” stress, like receiving an award or doing something exciting, and “bad” stress, like difficulty at work or home, can raise your blood sugars, which is why it’s important to monitor yourself and your stress level.
Do you suspect that stress is affecting your type 2 diabetes? It can be hard to know if your blood sugars are high (or low) because of what you’ve eaten, stress, or some other factor. One way to determine what’s happening is by keeping track of your stress levels and your blood sugar levels. Start a notebook where you track your blood sugar levels. Every time you test you blood sugar, first rate your stress level from 1 to 10. Over time, you’ll be able to see if your blood sugar is affected by your stress.
When you’re stressed, you might experience the following:
- Muscle pain and tension
- Sleeping issues
- Feeling unmotivated
- Feeling restless
- Feeling sick
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. However, constant stress isn’t good for your body, mind, or your type 2 diabetes. Instead of letting stress get the better of you, meet it head-on with some de-stressing techniques, including these:
- Use mindfulness and meditation. Take 10-15 minutes every day to focus your thoughts and increase your ability to feel calm and centered. Sit and close your eyes. Clear your mind or recite positive affirmations.
- Exercise daily. Try a resistance exercise like yoga or weightlifting. Or add a type of cardiovascular exercise to your daily routine like walking or biking. Your body will feel better and you can work out any stress that’s bothering you.
- Focus on the positive. It’s easy to see the negatives in your life. When you focus on the positive, you can reduce your stress and improve your general outlook on life. If you’re struggling to see the positives, try keeping a journal of positive things that happen in your life.
- Learn to say “no.” You don’t have to say yes to every request that comes to you. Instead, really think about what you can handle and what you’d like to do. Think about your priorities. Sometimes it’s just not possible to drive that carpool every day.
- Ask for help. You can’t do everything by yourself. Instead of drowning under the demands of your family or work life, reach out for help. In most cases, you’ll find that people are much more willing to help you than you realize.
- Talk to someone. It doesn’t matter if you see a counselor or talk to your best friend. It’s always helpful to talk to someone about the things you’re going through.
- Invest in some “me” time. Take time every day to do something just for yourself. Soak in a bubble bath. Read a few chapters in a book or go to lunch with a friend. Little things you do every day will help you take care of yourself and your mental health.
Stress isn’t good for anyone, yet everyone experiences it. Instead of drowning beneath your stress, make an effort to reduce it. Not only will your mind feel freer, but your diabetes will likely be easier to manage.