Effect Of Long Stress On Blood Glucose Levels
It is important to be aware that repeated episodes of stress can cause serious changes in blood sugar levels, making it harder for diabetics to manage their condition and increasing the risk of hypoglycemia .
Constant stress will also cause adrenal fatigue leading to adrenal failure, which is why it is vital to remove stress from your life, especially if you have diabetes.
How To Reduce Your Stress Level
- Find opportunities to rest: sit, lie down, put your feet up.
- Talk to friends, family and your partner about your concerns and stresses.
- Lower your expectations of yourself. The house can be messy, the laundry can fall behind and you can be less than perfect. You’re helping your baby grow and be healthy, and that’s your first priority.
- Get enough sleep.
- Ask for help in getting tasks done. Ask a friend to drive, a sister to help set up the nursery, your partner to grocery shop. If possible, hire out tasks like yard work and house cleaning during your pregnancy.
- Know and accept your limits. Let friends and family know that for now, you have to take special care of yourself and your baby. When you need rest. excuse yourself and go rest. When you feel overwhelmed, take on less.
- Be physically active every day. It’s a great stress reliever.
- Add relaxation to each day. Listen to your favorite music at work. Take a bubble bath. Close your eyes and do nothing except breathe deeply.
- Schedule time for what you want to do. Book time on your own calendar for whatever gives you joy. Visit a museum. Do needlework. Talk long distance with a friend. Read a long novel. Sit in the garden.
- Watch funny movies, read silly books, laugh with friends.
- Cry if you want. It’s a great stress reliever.
- Remind yourself that gestational diabetes isn’t forever.
Diabetes & Stress: How Stress Affects Your Blood Sugar
Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives. And stress can have a drastic effect on your blood sugar both immediately and in the long run.
Even the fun stress of a roller coaster ride triggers an increased production of hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and glucagon. Without these hormones, your body couldnt complete the task of grocery shopping, let alone endure a heated argument with your mother.
In this article, well look at the role of cortisol, adrenaline, and glucagon, and how each of these stress-related hormones can affect your blood sugar.
At the end of the post, we will summarize how all of this comes together to impact the day-to-day lives of people living with diabetes, and what you can do to reduce stress in your daily life.
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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.
The Symptoms Of Stress
Stress can manifest differently in one person from the next. For some, positive or negative stress may produce immediate tears, for example. In others, it may cause them to be silent and speechless. And others may become easily angry and irritable.
Depending on the severity of the stress level, your symptoms can vary. Here are some examples of stress symptoms:
Mild to moderate stress
- panic attacks
Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases. Stress is linked to 6 of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
Before we move on to how stress can affect your blood sugar and what you can do to reduce stress, lets take a closer look at the hormones involved in a stress reaction.
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Embracing Mindfulness In Your Own Life
- Develop a mindfulness practice. Deep breathing is a classic mindfulness practice that is easy to implement and truly works. A 2020 study, Effectiveness of slow deep breathing exercise on decreasing stress levels for patients with diabetes mellitus, found that engaging in deep breathing exercises reduced stress in those living with diabetes. Yoga has been shown to help, too. No matter what mindfulness practice you adopt, the key is to be present in the moment notice the full sensory experience around you. When were not living in the past or in the future, our bodys internal stress response naturally slows down. And remember: You can practice mindfulness anywhere, from taking a walk to doing the dishes.
- Avoid stress eating.Eating when youre emotional can have a negative impact on your blood sugar levels. Emotional eating occurs when you eat as a result of how you feel, not because your body truly needs fuel. And when that happens, youre more likely to reach for high-fat, high-sugar foods that cause blood sugar levels to rise . Tuning into why youre reaching for certain foods can help you short-circuit the mood-food chain reaction. This requires you to be more mindful about how stress plays a role in your food choices.
A Quick And Simple Step To Help Better Your Health
One simple way to ensure yourself that youâre not causing more harm to yourself by being concerned about your health as diabetic is to check your blood pressure regularly.When you keep track of your blood pressure , youâre empowered with the knowledge to know what works best for your body.For example, if youâre a bit more stressed than usual, youâll be able to see that trend. If a particular meal and diet plan is not working for you, youâll be able to observe that in the numbers that your measurements present. If an exercise routine is a bit more intense than your body can handle, your blood pressure measurements can show you that.Getting a simple home blood pressure monitor and then tracking your blood pressure on an app, like Hello Heart , is a way to good way to start. The Hello Heart app is free in the iTunes store and Google Play. It included built-in reminders and colorful visuals that help you easier see the trends that matter the most.
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Can Stress Cause High Blood Glucose
It is commonly known that certain foods, illness and lack of exercise can increase blood glucose levels. However, another factor that can increase blood glucose levels is stress. Managing stress is quite complicated. To make it even harder, each type of stress can affect blood glucose levels differently. Its all highly individual. So, how can stress cause high blood glucose and what can you do about it?
Ways To Reduce Mental Stress
- Teach yourself to relax when under stress using deep-breathing exercises or techniques you learn in a stress-management class.
- Evaluate your schedule and determine if you can make changes to relieve stress.
- Exercise regularly
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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.
The Mental Vicious Circle
Beyond the pure physical impact of stress, theres a confounding mental element: If you are stressed out, your mental bandwidth to deal with complex tasks is reduced. You are less organized, energetic and motivated. So naturally, this impacts diabetes control. When people get stressed out, theyre more likely to eat heavy comfort foods, skip difficult tasks or medications, and to basically ignore their diabetes. This is even more significant when it comes to stresss first cousin: Depression.
Depressions negative effect on diabetes control is well-documented, and deadly serious.
Theres a big difference between being stressed or burnt out, and being clinically depressed, according to Dr. Bill Polonsky, founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, in this article on mental health and diabetes.
Depression is a clinically diagnosed or diagnosable medical condition, whereas experiencing stress is not. He explains:
Still, everyday stress on its own can certainly derail your diabetes management, and research shows it can even weaken your immune system.
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Identify Sources Of Stress
Being pregnant, preparing for a new baby and learning to manage gestational diabetes are stressful things on their own. But you also lead a life in the real world, with all it stresses and tensions.
Stress has many sources. Name some of your main sources of stress and see if you can identify an action to reduce or eliminate complications of gestational diabetes for you and your baby.
You might find that simply learning as much as you can about gestational diabetes will relieve much of your worry.
S Toward Stress Reduction
One of the things you need to do in order to lessen the effect of stress on your blood glucose levels and improve your overall health is to take time in your daily life to rest whenever you can. The rest periods can be very short but they should be often because only through rest can you lessen your bodys cortisol level and improve your quality of life.
Rest is crucial for long-term spiritual and psychological well-being. If you dont take time out to reduce your stress levels, you can become ill. Scientists studying stress in the Netherlands reported that too much fatigue, also known as vital exhaustion causes demoralization, irritability, and fatigue. It may also increase your chances of getting a heart attack by 100 percent.
These are ways you can take time out of your life for rest and stress reduction:
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Dealing With Diabetes Can Cause Anxiety
Lets face it: Controlling diabetes is hard work. That in itself is enough to cause worry and stress. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, those with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to experience anxiety than those without the disease.
We understand this, and were dedicated to helping alleviate your worry by working together as a team to address any distressing issues.
The Wrong Way To Deal With Stress When You Have Diabetes
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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Stress Raises Blood Sugar Levels
Why does extra tension in your body cause your blood sugar to go up even if you havenât eaten anything? There are a number of factors that go into this, but a primary reason is that stress triggers the body to release cortisol, which is a hormone that helps the body get through tough situations .When cortisol comes out to play, your heart rate and breathing speed up. This also sends glucose and protein stores from your liver into the blood to make energy immediately available to your muscles. In other words, your body releases sugar into the blood so that the energy can get throughout your system. The result: higher blood sugar levels.
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.
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Is It Only ‘negative Stress’ That Affects Blood Sugar
Even positive life changes can cause blood sugar to swing, says Amy Campbell, RD, a certified diabetes care and education specialist, and a contributor to DiabetesSelfManagement.com. Planning a wedding, moving to a new city, getting a job promotion such happy stressors can also send your fight-or-flight hormones into overdrive.
A past review cited the definition of stress as the physiological or psychological response to an external stimulus, regardless of whether that stimulus is good or bad. That means that if you experience a significant change in your life whether it’s positive or negative its a good idea to keep an extra-close watch on your blood sugar.
How Does Anxiety Affect Blood Sugar Levels
You might think that spikes in blood sugar levels are only problems for those with diabetes, since they have problems with insulin secretion or use, although you might be surprised to find out that huge emotional stress that leads to anxiety can be the cause of blood sugar spike in non-diabetic population. The good news is, the spike is temporary most of the time, caused by overproduction of stress hormones and not by any kind of chronic metabolic abnormality.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of studies researching this topic, although the mechanism behind heightened blood sugar levels in response to stress is well-understood.
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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
Is Sugar Bad For You
If you love sweets, don’t despair. You don’t have to give them up forever. Sugar will raise your blood sugar levels more quickly than other carbs, but diabetes experts now say the total amount of carbs is most important. So keep your serving sizes small and take into account the total carbs and calories.
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What Happens To My Blood Sugar Levels When Im Stressed
During stressful situations, epinephrine , glucagon, growth hormone and cortisol play a role in blood sugar levels. Stressful situations include infections, serious illness or significant emotion stress.
When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar or energy is readily available. Insulin levels fall, glucagon and epinephrine levels rise and more glucose is released from the liver. At the same time, growth hormone and cortisol levels rise, which causes body tissues to be less sensitive to insulin. As a result, more glucose is available in the blood stream.
When you have type 2 diabetes, low blood sugars from too much medication or insulin are a common cause of stress. The hormonal response to a low blood sugar includes a rapid release of epinephrine and glucagon, followed by a slower release of cortisol and growth hormone. These hormonal responses to the low blood sugar may last for 6-8 hours during that time the blood sugar may be difficult to control. The phenomena of a low blood sugar followed by a high blood sugar is called a rebound or Somogyi reaction.
When you have type 2 diabetes, stress may make your blood sugar go up and become more difficult to control and you may need to take higher doses of your diabetes medications or insulin.
During times of stress, individuals with diabetes, may have more difficulty controlling their blood sugars.
S To Find Out If Stress Is Affecting Your Blood Glucose Levels
- Step 1. Rate your stress level from 1-10, where 1 indicates the lowest stress level and 10 the highest. Record the stress level along with situation and feelings in your logbook.
- Step 2. Test your blood glucose and record your result.
- Step 3. After a week or two, study your results to see if theres any pattern between your stress levels and your blood glucose levels.
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