Stress can complicate life with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
There are two kinds of stress. The first kind is the immediate stress one feels in a moment of thrill or panic. A roller-coaster ride or an argument can send adrenaline and other stress hormones pouring into the blood stream, along with an infusion of glucose from muscles and the liver. For most people this is an infrequent experience and it does not impact long-term blood sugar levels. However, if you work in an emergency room, or as a police officer, a few adrenaline rushes each day may be elevating your blood sugar.
The second kind of stress is the chronic stress that people live with every day. This prolonged state of mind can be harmful to people with diabetes.
Chronic stress comes from a challenging job, financial worries, difficult relationships, or living with a difficult condition like diabetes. Your body deals with this by releasing the hormone cortisol steadily into the blood supply. Cortisol synthesizes certain proteins, and the chemical reaction produces notable amounts of glucose.
As a reaction to cortisol, the body also frequently releases glucagon in response to chronic stress. Glucagon sends the chemical signal to the liver to release glucose. Between cortisol and glucagon's influence, people living with continuous stress also have constantly elevated blood sugar.
It is not usually easy or practical to immediately change the stress factors in your life. Leaving a stressful job, paying off debts, or beating back your diabetes may not be possible today. However, there are some behaviors you can consider now.
- If you have not yet adopted regular exercise, or altered your diet, you can start now. You can include more fiber in your diet, which will reduce the stress in your digestive system.
- If stress is putting extra glucose in your body, insulin injections may help cancel it out.
- You can also sit down with a therapist like a psychologist and talk through many of the aspects of your life that cause you stress. He or she may teach you strategies for addressing people and situations in your life that are stressful.
If you are considering changing your diet, adopting more exercise, starting insulin, or talking with a therapist, begin by making a phone call or visit to your doctor. He or she will help match the proper resources for these stress reducing activities to your needs. Addressing stress will help you regulate blood sugar.