Diabetes Stress Management, Ways to Lower Stress

Good diabetes stress management will improve your diabetic complications. You must not let chronic stress make you worse.

Managing stress is a skill we have to develop because type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease. That means we deal with its consequences every day.

Stress is not a bad thing in itself. Avoiding it would be like avoiding exercise. We need to use our stress "muscles" to stay strong.

Needles and White Coat Syndrome

The day to day physical and emotional stress of type 2 diabetic care can be overwhelming. Just checking your blood glucose stresses you if it is high.

If it is too low, you worry about hypoglycemia and diabetic coma.

Diabetes stress management involves finding ways to face needles. If you hate them, pricking your finger and taking insulin means a daily battle with fear.

Why blood tests are so important to diabetics.

So many people hate going to the doctor that it has a name: "white coat hypertension."

It means your blood pressure rises from the stress of going to the doctor. Since doctors are necessary for type 2 diabetic care, that adds to your stress load.

Medical Costs and Stress

Financial pressure brings huge amounts of stress, and medical costs add to the burden.

There are ways you can lower the cost, but it is still adds daily stress with every medication, test and doctor visit.

Too many type 2 diabetics are simply not buying the things they need. If you are doing this, check out the page on medical costs to get some help.

The Diabetes Cure Adds Stress

Working to get off of diabetes medications adds another level of stress. If you expect too much it could cause you to simply give up.

Changing old habits by eating healthy, losing weight and exercising is not easy. Stress over having bad days can pull you down.

None of us do things right every day, but if you expect that you will, it adds more stress.

Getting to your perfect weight and becoming medication free is a good goal, but it is going to take time.

Diabetes stress management will be simpler if you ease up on your expectations.

Chronic Stress Is Bad for You

Chronic stress changes blood glucose levels and does other things as well. This is how it works.

Stress triggers the release of hormones to prepare you to react. Whether you are choosing "fight" or "flight," your body will flood glucose to your muscles, getting them ready.

Also, your heartbeat rises, and free fatty acids get thrown into your bloodstream.

Then your body releases cortisols that stimulate your appetite and a craving for sugar. So with chronic stress, those cortisols cause weight gain.

Because your emotional and physical response to diabetes gives you chronic stress, your blood sugar, blood pressure and cortisols are abnormally high.

Chronic Stress and Defeat

Besides fight or flight, there is another response to chronic stress. It is defeat that stems from dealing day in and day out with painful complications of diabetes.

The result of defeat is fat creation, deep abdominal obesity (fat deposits around organs), breakdown of tissues and suppression of the immune system.

It is these deep fat stores, far more than the fat under the skin, that lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

If your reaction to stress is defeat you will not have the desire to exercise. You might comfort yourself with drinking more alcohol, eating "comfort food" or binge eating.

These responses to chronic stress make type 2 diabetes much worse. So diabetes stress management has to be a top priority.

How Do You Handle Chronic Stress?

Where do you start diabetes stress management? Do you remember the serenity prayer? It is about accepting what you cannot change and changing the things you can.

Changing starts with knowing yourself. Are you a type A? Do you take charge and go for things?

Or are you a type B who lets things happen and goes with the flow? That affects how you handle stress.

If you are not a good organizer, make lists and set priorities so you don't feel overwhelmed. It will be worth the effort.

Keep a good diary of your blood sugar levels. Check off whether you took your medications and exercised.

Do Something New to Relieve Stress

A hobby is a good stress reliever. I write children's books. Just do something you can immerse yourself in.

You might try exercising by doing sports or dancing. Keep it fun so you will continue.

Find things to do for other people, maybe some volunteer work. Getting out of yourself helps you avoid tunnel vision, and it is good diabetes stress management.

Do aerobic exercise like walking or biking, and anaerobic exercise like stretching and working with weights.

You might try "mindful" exercises. Those include relaxation, deep breathing, yoga movements, things that move large muscles and make you aware of how your body works.

Replace bad thoughts with good ones. We all get attacked by hopeless, self defeating thoughts. We can fight them with hopeful songs, prayers, quotes, Bible verses, fighting lies with truth.

Diabetes stress management includes rest. If you have trouble sleeping, try relaxation exercises. Meditate on good things, whatever you are thankful for.

And don't drink alcohol or other stimulants before bed. They will disturb your sleep. Here are some more ways to deal with sleep disorders. Stress can ruin your sleep, and poor sleep will add to stress.

Learn to Handle Stress Well

You will always have stress of some kind. Type 2 diabetes only adds to it.

If you handle stress well you are going to take better care of your diabetic chores. You will watch your blood sugar, and it is easier for you to change habits.

You will not have eating disorders and depression. You will avoid the worsened blood sugars that are caused by chronic stress.

Peter Marshall wrote this prayer:

  • "When we long for a life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds, and diamonds are made under pressure."

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