How Stress Can Impact Diabetes

As with so many chronic conditions, Type 2 diabetes has its roots in lifestyle habits that affect how well your body works. You’ve probably worked with your doctor to modify your diet to focus on fresh, wholesome foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ve also increased your activity level and exercise regularly.

But if you want to control your blood sugar, you need to control your stress levels too. Kimberly Bolling, MD, an expert internist in Bowie, Maryland, takes a lifestyle-first approach to diabetes control whenever possible. Here’s why those proverbial “chill pills” are so important if you have diabetes.

Stress raises blood glucose

When you’re in a state of anxiety, dread, or another stress state — including anger — your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Those stress hormones interfere with insulin’s ability to get glucose out of your bloodstream and into your cells for energy.

Pay attention to when you feel stressed out so you can take a moment to relax yourself before your blood sugar goes up. Symptoms that you’re under stress include:

The physical symptoms of stress serve as good alerts that it’s time to focus on yourself for a moment. You can rate your stress levels on a scale of 1-10 and then check your blood glucose levels. Doing this a few times helps you correlate how stress affects your blood sugar levels.

Stress interferes with good decisions

When you’re stressed out, your body is in fight-or-flight mode, which means that on a cellular and hormonal level, you feel under threat. When you’re under threat, you’re more prone to make impulsive decisions. 

If you notice that you’re eating foods that aren’t nourishing, or are slipping back into old, unhealthy habits such as smoking, you may be under stress. If you’re having trouble making decisions or are making impulsive decisions that aren’t serving you, stress may be at the root. 

Call a support group or contact our office if you have difficulty managing stress. 

Diabetes causes stress, too

Whether your doctor just recently diagnosed you with diabetes, or you’ve lived with it for a long time, chronic diseases like diabetes can cause chronic stress. You can’t live your life as off-the-cuff as you once did. 

You have to think twice about what and when you eat. You have to monitor your blood sugar. You may even need to take insulin.

When you have to live with a chronic disease and modify your lifestyle, you may feel emotions such as grief, anxiety, and depression. These emotions cause stress that can then exacerbate your disease.

Choose your ‘chill pill’

In our rushed, 24/7 world, it may feel like a luxury to grab some time just for yourself. If you have diabetes, however, taking time to relax, refocus, and breathe is even more important for you than it is for those without diabetes. De-stressing is, in fact, part of your treatment. And you get to choose how to do it.

Dr. Bolling works with you to find ways to alleviate stress that feel comforting and nourishing to you. You may choose from a variety of stress-reduction methods, including:

In other words, you should be able to enjoy your decompression time. You should take time for yourself every day. Ideally, schedule breathing and meditation breaks throughout the day to keep your body feeling rested and focused.

Of course, the last thing you want to do when scheduling your chill pill is become anxious or worried about whether you’ve scheduled too much — or too little — time for yourself. If you find it difficult to give yourself the break you need, Dr. Bolling may refer you to a therapist so you can learn to focus on your health without guilt or worry.

To get help with your diabetes and learn more about lifestyle changes that can control your blood sugar, call our Bowie, Maryland, office today at 301-352-0090 or request an appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Bolling and the team here on our website.

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