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Can Stress Affect Your Blood Sugar

How Stress Affects Blood Sugar

Diabetes and stress: how does it affect my blood sugar levels – Ken Tait

6/29/2020 by Miriam Stangs

From adrenaline-soaked excitement to prolonged anxiety, stress can have many faces. Sometimes, it can feel like all those stressors dont play well with your diabetes monster. Were here to explain how stress impacts your blood glucose and how you can gain control.

Back in our evolutionary history, the original purpose of your stress response was to provide energy reserves for fight-or-flight in case of an emergency. The urban jungle we live in today hardly requires a prehistoric escape, but our body still reacts to our daily stress in the same way it did back then.

And constant, heavy, stress can cause blood sugar levels to rise. But acute stress in certain situations that you perceive as stressful can also cause spikes in your blood sugar levels

Are Some People More Prone To Anxiety Than Others

Thats a difficult question, and theres no one correct answer.

Generally, both physical and psychological factors cause everyone to react to stress differently.

For example, genetics can play a role. Some genes that control the stress response may go into overdrive while for other people, they are under reactive.

Those who experience traumatic life events or are survivors of abuse may be more vulnerable to stress.

Still others may have a combination of factors.

How To Combat Stress

So how can you reduce stress so that it has less of an effect on your blood sugar control?

Well, to some extent that depends on the nature of your stress. Anything in life that is stressing you out thats fixable, you should work to fix. That stupid toilet that runs all night and disturbs your sleep? Get it repaired. Thats easy. But sometimes its harder: The boyfriend or girlfriend who always puts you down? Time to break up. Not all that easy to do, although it will improve your health on multiple levels.

Meanwhile, things that stress you out that you cant fix, but that you can avoid, you should avoid. Your sister drives you nuts? Youre not required to visit her, you know.

Lastly, of course, there are things in life that you cant fix and you cant avoid, and these you need to develop ways to deal with. Sometimes this involves changing your mental attitude toward it. Other times its the use of stress-relief tools, like exercise to burn off that fight or flight sugar, or hot baths and aroma therapy candles to drown the stress so that your body stops releasing the sugar.

Some of the most tried-and-true stress relief tactics are:

  • Exercise of any kind

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How To Reduce Your Stress Levels

Learning what helps you manage, reduce, and relieve your overall stress level is a vital lesson. Sometimes the simplest thing can help you take a deep breath, lower your blood pressure, lower stress hormones, and release the physical and mental grip of stress.

Here are a few ideas for reducing your stress levels:

How Can Stress Raise Your Blood Sugar Levels

Can High Blood Sugar Cause Anxiety?

In this modern-day era, we have stress running down our veins in our everyday lives. Most of us live a fast-paced life full of requirements and limitations. For those of us who struggle with diabetes, a busy and agitated day can end up being a battle between our bodies and mind.

Stress is a state of mind that develops as a result of how one interacts with specific events. It is the bodys ability to respond to an issue and prepare itself to face a challenging situation with emphasis, resilience, and mental clarity.

Stress happens when the body finds itself trapped in the fight-or-flight scenario, and it operates as if it was under attack.

Once your body has recognized the red flags of stress, it then starts sending signals throughout your entire system to produce more hormones. These hormones, that have been released into the bloodstream, are responsible for speeding up the heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. With this, what the body is trying to do is to make fat, stored energy and glucose available to cells. That means that insulin isnt always able to distribute additional energy into cells, therefore glucose builds up in the blood, making stress raise your blood sugar levels.

People who are stressed out may notice many of the symptoms listed below:

Anxiety or panic attacks

A sense of being continuously pressured, hassled, and rushed

Mood swings

And drug abuse

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When Stress Strikes Closely Monitor Your Blood Sugar

When youre stressed, you should be monitoring and checking your sugars to see if the stress is having an effect or not, Dr. Belfort De Aguiar says. Simply being aware that stressful situations can affect blood sugar can prepare you to make adjustments. When youre under a lot of stress, thats when you want to be really on top of your blood sugar, Campbell says. Its the time to hone your self-care behaviors.

How Does Stress Work

When the brain senses danger, it releases stress hormones that get the body ready for action. Blood sugar rises, to give the body extra fuel. This gives us a burst of energy that ends when the danger goes away.

But when stress lasts for a long time, and the body isnt given a chance to rest, the brain stays in a constant state of alarm, so it keeps producing stress hormones that keep raising blood sugar. This is great for a short burst of energy, but constantly high blood sugar is toxic and leads to diabetes symptoms.

Stress also increases insulin resistance, which makes our bodies less able to reduce blood sugar. And to top it all off, stress might encourage us to try to relax with unhealthy habits like smoking, eating high-calorie foods, or isolating ourselves, which can worsen diabetes and make us even more stressed in the long run.

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Diabetes Stress And Blood Sugar

Stress isnt healthy for anyone, diabetic or not. However, when you have diabetes, stress can have a specific impact on both your insulin and your blood sugar levels.

When the body becomes stressed, it releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your system. In a person with diabetes, these hormones can make it harder for your insulin to work. When cortisol is released, it triggers your bodies natural fight or flight reaction this can cause your heartbeat and breathing to speed up. However, it also releases glucose stored in your liver into your blood so the energy can get throughout your system. In a person with diabetes, the pancreas struggles to keep up with the high demand for insulin, causing insulin resistance. As the energy cant get into the cells, this causes your blood sugar levels to rise.

If your blood sugar levels rise too much, this can cause a hyper which can lead to you feeling thirsty, lethargic and give you a headache. If the stress doesnt go away, it can keep your blood sugar levels high and put you at a higher risk of other diabetes complications, as well as affecting your day to day mood and how you look after yourself and your condition.

But dont worry! There are plenty of things you can do to take the pressure off.

When Lifestyle Changes Arent Enough

How Stress Affect YOUR Blood Sugar!

Even if you eat healthy, stay active, and avoid lows, you might still feel anxious. If this happens, it might help to talk to a therapist or other counselor. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one type of talk therapy proven to help with anxiety. You work with a counselor to recognize when you’re having negative thoughts and think through new ways of dealing with situations that challenge you. Talk with your doctor about it.

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What You Can Do Now

Although diabetes can present a different set of challenges, its possible to manage it effectively and lead a happy, healthy lifestyle. You can add short, meditative sessions or small workouts to your daily routine. You can also look into support groups and find one that best suits your personality and lifestyle needs. Being proactive can help ease the tension in your life.

Stay Organized To Improve Your A1c And Lower Stress

Staying organized about all the aspects of your care doctors appointments, at-home blood-glucose monitoring, medication schedules can help with overall diabetes management. According to past research, maintaining solid organizational practices are linked to lower chronic cortisol levels, and finding a diabetes-management routine that works for you will also reduce the risk of health complications.

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Why You Should Monitor Your Blood Sugar Level And How New Technology Can Help

Continuous blood sugar monitoring is one smart way to manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This gives you full control to see the effect of different activities on your glucose level. These include eating habits, exercise, sleeping patterns, and your general lifestyle.

Having this information will safeguard against complications that accompany diabetes. These include high blood pressure, heart diseases, and blood vessel damage. Others are microvascular complications, stroke, and many more.

Since blood sugar monitoring is an activity that you need to perform frequently, its best to take advantage of innovative technologies. They can help you with self monitoring of blood glucose.

With Diabetes:M, you can monitor nearly all aspects of your diabetes. The app is designed for all types of diabetes and pre-diabetes and allows you to track your glucose levels, blood pressure, food intake, and exercise routine.

Android users can download the app here. If you are an iOS user, then you can get it here.

The Wrong Way To Deal With Stress When You Have Diabetes

Fasting Blood Sugar

Food, alcohol, self-pity: These unhealthy coping mechanisms do more harm than good. When were stressed out, we turn to unhealthy food comfort food and we may start eating a lot of sweets, Belfort De Aguiar says. These are the wrong ways to cope with stress.

Also, find ways to reach out and find social connection with your loved ones. Campbell also warns against keeping your emotions bottled up inside. Be sure to share your stress, she says, even it just means having someone listen to you vent.

For more on dealing with diabetes burnout, check out Diabetes Daily’s article “How to Get Out of a Diabetes Rut“!

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Seek Support In Reducing Stress

Living with type 2 diabetes can be intrinsically stressful. Called diabetes burnout, overwhelm and fatigue caused by blood sugar testing, carb-counting, insulin administration, doctor visits, and other facets of diabetes management can negatively affect both physical and emotional health, according to the ADA.

Take advantage of your support circle. A family member, friend, or other source of support who will listen to you can make a big difference in the way you manage stress, Campbell says, adding, You can also talk to a counselor or join an online support community. The ADA recommends diabetes support groups as a way to connect with people who understand what youre going through and to share management and coping advice. Check out The ADA Mental Health Provider Referral Directory to find nearby groups that, when the pandemic is over, you can join in person.

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How Are Stress And Blood Sugar Related

Stress whether it is related to relationships, to work, or to some other aspect of life can cause blood sugar levels to go up. It happens mainly due to the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, which raise your blood sugar level to provide you with more energy. It is natural because of the fight-or-flight response. Your blood sugar levels need to be elevated for you to be able to fight danger. However, it becomes difficult for your body to manage this spike in blood sugar when there is already insufficient insulin in your body due to diabetes, which is the reason why stress in any form can contribute to elevated levels of sugar in your blood.

Risks When Stressed

There is definitely connection between stress and blood sugar, but what exactly are the risks associated with this? If you have diabetes and are constantly under stress, it will become difficult to manage your blood sugar levels. Constantly elevated blood sugar levels will lead to several health complications, including kidney problems, blindness, and nerve damage, which can cause food numbness and serious infections. Not taking steps to control your blood sugar levels will also result in cardiovascular complications and you will be at a greater risk of having strokes and heart attacks.

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What To Do If You Have A Blood Sugar Spike

For those with diabetes, having a blood sugar spike can be dangerous because too much sugar in the blood passes into the urine. This triggers the body to filter out the fluid, which could lead to dehydration or a diabetic coma.

In the event that blood sugar levels spike because of stressors that cannot be managed, its vital to make managing your blood glucose a priority. You can do this by focusing on things you can control, such as your diet and exercise, checking your blood sugar regularly, and taking your medications as instructed by your physician.

Is Stress The Source Of Your Blood Sugar Swing

Why does stress increase blood sugars

Right now, COVID-19 stress can feel like a given and if something causes you stress, it can also trigger an increase if your blood sugar level.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you know that certain foods particularly foods that are high in carbohydrates can send your blood glucose level through the roof. But did you know that theres a long list of other factors, such as too little sleep, illness, even monthly menstrual cycles, that can sabotage your best efforts to stabilize your blood sugar?

High on that list, though you may not be aware of it, is stress.

Whether its related to work, to relationships, or to some other aspect of your life, research has continually shown that emotional stress can cause blood sugar to surge, according to the American Diabetes Association . And because consistent management of blood sugar is the key to living a healthy life with type 2 diabetes, its important to understand how stress affects you and to find healthy ways to cope when mental distress mounts.

Thats especially true right now when the novel coronavirus is top of mind and everyones stress level is sky-high. In addition to heightening health worries, the COVID-19 pandemic comes with immense economic and daily living stressors. Whether youve lost your job, are working from home, helping your kids with e-learning, or quarantined by yourself, its natural to feel stress.

As if stress werent bad enough on its own, it can contribute to irregular blood-sugar levels.

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Anxiety Over Diabetes Management

Managing your blood sugar and other aspects of your health when you have diabetes can be time consuming and stressful, and also contribute to anxiety.

For people with diabetes, monitoring blood sugar usually involves a home finger prick test. Fear of needles, as well as fear of the results, may lead to anxiety.

One study found that 33% of people with diabetes experience anxiety specific to the finger prick method of glucose testing. Thirty percent of people with diabetes in this same study had generalized anxiety related to their diabetes management.

Other areas of diabetes management may also lead to stress and anxiety. This includes monitoring potential symptoms of vision loss , nerve damage , slow-healing wounds on the feet or extremities, kidney damage, and more.

Anxiety Over Low Blood Sugar

A low blood sugar episode, which can include anything from confusion and shakiness to nausea, loss of consciousness, and seizures, can be very scary. It therefore makes sense that some people with diabetes also experience anxiety related to possibly having a low blood sugar episodeâand not just as a physiological reaction to low blood sugar levels.

This anxiety is so common that the term “fear of hypoglycemia” is commonly used among healthcare providers and researchers. Research has found that a history of experiencing mild hypoglycemia increases FoH in people who have diabetes.

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Reducing Stress In The Moment

  • Close your eyes and take deep inhales and exhales for 30 seconds
  • Go for a walk
  • Exercise to get your heart rate UP which causes your central nervous system to relax
  • Go for a drive
  • Watch your favorite stand-up comedy
  • Make a to-do list to get everything off your mind
  • Clean your house
  • Create a voice memo like your own private therapy session
  • Dance to your favorite music

Everything that makes you calm down, makes you smile, or helps your body relax will have a positive effect on your stress level.

Exercise To Lower Stress

Can Stress Cause High Blood Sugar in Non Diabetics

The benefits of exercise in reducing stress are well known. Exercise gives you a feeling of well-being and may relieve symptoms of stress. Think about what kinds of exercise help you relieve stress. You can blow off steam with hard exercise, recharge on a hike, or do a relaxing mind-body activity like yoga or tai chi. You’ll feel better. Exercise doesn’t just help you fight stress. It can lower your blood pressure and help you lose any extra pounds. Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise program. Ask what type of exercise might be best for you.

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