Stress can significantly affect almost any part of life, however, when you have a chronic illness such as diabetes, it can play a part in how you manage and control your disease. Diabetics under stress are more likely to forget crucial aspects of diabetes therapy, like proper eating habits, and regular administration of medication. This reckless abandon can lead to a fluctuation in blood glucose levels, and could eventually result in diabetic complications.
The Effect of Stress and Diabetes
Stressors can be either physical or mental. Physical stressors include injury or illness. Diabetics that are under physical stress from a virus often feel worse because of the havoc that is being wreaked upon their bodies. Mental or emotional stressors like job or finance concerns and relationship problems can also cause worsening and fluctuations in blood glucose levels due to improper management. With either physical or mental stress, the body prepares to take action, which is called the flight-or-fight response. In this phenomenon, there is in an increase in the levels of various hormones. This increase causes the production of stored energy in the forms of glucose and fat which are available to the body’s cells. The cells in turn assist in getting the body away from the danger source. The fight-or-flight response in diabetics, however, is dysfunctional. Insulin is not always able to reach its proper destination in the cells, and glucose accumulates in the blood.
Facts on Stress:
- Physical or mental
- Caused by injury or illness
- Causes levels of various hormones
Stress can affect the blood sugar levels of a diabetic in a couple of different ways. First of all, individuals under stress may not take the best care of themselves. This can include a change in eating habits, and an increase in harmful behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse. Diabetics under stress also tend to exercise less, and not properly control blood glucose levels. Blood sugar levels can also be directly be affected by stress hormones. Physical stress has been proven to increase blood glucose levels in Types I and II diabetes. However, Type II diabetics are more sensitive to these stress hormones.
Blood Sugars and Stress:
- Increases blood sugar levels
- Type 2 diabetics affected more
Fighting the Effects of Stress
There are several ways for diabetics to combat the effects of stressors. A great way to reduce stress and its effects, is to reveal your feelings to a family member, friend, or even counselor. Your physician should also be a shoulder to lean on in terms of the stress that is caused by your disease. There are also many groups now available that cater to the needs of the diabetic patient. Look for a local diabetic support group. Talking to someone who is going through the same thing you are is often a positive experience, and a big release. And as this is the age of technology and the internet, there are also several places online that can cater to your feelings. Message boards, chat rooms, and web sites dedicated to specific diseases now fill the World Wide Web. Find a group that suits your needs best, and let your feelings out.
Ways to Reduce Stress
- Talk about your feelings
- Join a local diabetes group
- Get exercise
- Keep your blood sugars in tight control
Relaxation therapies such as meditation and yoga are also an ideal way to relieve stress in your life. Breathing exercises can cleanse your body, as well as, your mind, and strengthen your outlook on life. The age-old technique of yoga is also a preferred way of dealing with stress. These exercises have been proven to relieve some of the physical stressors related to diabetes, and lessen the risk of complications later in the disease. Whatever method you ultimately choose, remember that stress is only temporary, and things will improve. Focusing on positive thoughts and what is best for you and your health is the best thing for a diabetic patient, and can ensure that you will enjoy a prosperous life.
Relaxation Therapies Include:
- Breathing exercises