Stress is a part of day to day life; when under control, it improves your performance & productivity. But when it goes beyond a certain limit, it not only affects your health but also worsens underlying diseases. For example, it makes blood sugar difficult to control in people with diabetes. Therefore it becomes very important to know your stress levels & ways to de-stress yourself for better diabetes control.
How does stress affect diabetes?
In diabetics, stress can alter blood sugar levels. It does this in two ways. First is through a healthy lifestyle. People suffering from stress may eat more or drink more alcohol or exercise less which eventually results in high sugar levels. Secondly, stress hormones may also alter blood sugar levels directly.
Stress blocks the body from releasing insulin in people with Type 2 diabetes.
How to check whether stress really affects diabetes control?
It’s easy to find out whether mental stress affects your glucose control. Before checking your glucose levels, rate your mental stress level on a scale of one to ten. Write down your glucose level next to it. After a week or two, look for a pattern. Drawing a graph may help you see trends better. If high stress levels frequently occur with high glucose level, and low stress level with low glucose levels, it implies that stress affects your glucose control.
Learning to relax:
There are many ways to help you relax:
1. Breathing exercises: Sit or lie down and uncross your legs and arms. Take in a deep breath. Then push out as much air as you can. Visualize all your stress going away with each of the exhalation. Breathe in and out again, this time relaxing your muscles on purpose while breathing out. Keep breathing and relaxing for 5 to 20 minutes at a time. Do the breathing exercises at least twice a day.
2. Music/ Audio therapy: This is a technique where listening to a pre-recorded audio / soft music relieves all your stress.
3. Exercise/ Sport: Another way to relax to relax your body is by subjecting it to series of movements including circling, stretching, and shaking parts of body. To make this exercise more enjoyable, move with music. You can also join a sports team / club.
4. Support Groups: Knowing other people in the same situation helps you feel less lonely and introduces you to new problem-solving techniques.
5. Recreation: You can take up a new hobby or learn a new craft. You can volunteer to contribute to a worthy cause.
6. Share it with your healthcare team: Think about the aspects of your diabetes management that you find the most stressful. It might be taking your medication, checking your blood glucose levels, exercising or your diet. Talking to your healthcare team would certainly help you overcome the problems.
Learn & explore new ways of coping with stress. Always keep & cultivate a positive attitude. Seek help from various resources; but the true change must always come from within!