The Balance Act of Stress and Diabetes

Stress can sabotage the best efforts at controlling blood sugar. When we are stressed, the body releases higher levels of the hormone, cortisol. This hormone together with adrenaline places the body in a fight or flight mood. This creates a dominos effect by increasing the concentration of glucose which interferes with the activity of insulin, leads to higher levels of A1C, and increases the risk of complications. When cortisol rises, it damages brain neurons associated with mood. It’s no wonder that people with diabetes suffer from depression 3-5 times more than the average person. Brain cells can regrow if the cortisol levels are decreased. However, if those levels stay at a constant high due to stress, medical problems will happen.

When people are stressed, they will reach for comfort foods. Those high-carb foods are the worst thing a diabetic can eat.  It is a daily juggling act to decide what they can or can’t eat. Diabetes is  challenging because it requires attention and discipline. So what can a person do?

  • Find out the cause of your stress. If it’s your job, you need to decide if it’s worth staying there or move on. If you can’t leave, take a time out.
  • Find reasons to laugh. Humor is a great reducer of stress and it lowers your cortisol. Go to a comedy club or watch a funny movie.
  • Working out helps the body burn up excess cortisol produced by stress.
  • Meditate. Focus on a picture in your mind of something peaceful.
  • Concentrate on your breathing, slow and easy, in and out for a few minutes.
  • Stretch or go for a walk.
  • Find a nutritionist to help you plan a balanced diet. Some people are overwhelmed with a diagnosis of Diabetes and have a hard time with planning meals.
  • Seek help for depression if you find yourself lacking interest in things you once enjoyed.
  • Contact the local Diabetes Association for help and questions.
  • Talk with friends or family. Sometimes just talking about the stressors in your life with someone releases the burden.

Stress-reducing techniques can lower your cortisol levels and stabilize your insulin thus reducing the risk of complications with Diabetes. Also you will feel better.

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