Where Is Your Stress Coming From?
As many of you already know, from first-hand experience, there are a number of factors that can impact your blood glucose. Stress is one of those factors, and if left unmanaged, stress can negatively impact your blood glucose control.
Glycemic control is negatively impacted by stress for multiple reasons
- Stress can make adhering to self-care tasks (i.e. taking medication, testing glucose, exercising, and eating healthy) more of a challenge.
- Stress increases the release of stress hormones (counter-regulatory hormones). These hormones cause a release of excess glucose and reduce the uptake of glucose. Both of which result in an increase in blood glucose levels and a potential increase in A1c over time.
Being prepared to manage stress can help reduce the negative impact stress has on your blood glucose control and overall health. (chronic stress may increase your risk for other health problems such as: mental health disorders, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal problems).2
Types of stress
If you have diabetes, stress can come from 2 primary sources: diabetes-related stressors and general life stressors.1 The types of stress are described below:
A brief diabetes stressor related to “the pathophysiology or treatment of the condition.”1 Examples include: change in treatment, starting a new diabetes device, or management of a hypoglycemia event.
Chronic diabetes-stress is also referred to as: diabetes-related distress which is “the emotional stress associated with the ongoing worries, burdens, and concerns that individuals feel living with diabetes”1
General acute stress
This type of stress includes life stressors that are usually short term and require an individual to focus in on the recent events and the demands of the near future. General acute stressors may include recent life events such as a car accident, illness or death of a relative, and divorce.1
General chronic stress
An individual may be experiencing chronic stress when that individual “sees no way out of a difficult situation with unrelenting pressures lasting extended periods of time.” Chronic stressors may include a poor living situation, family/marital conflict, unemployment or poor working conditions, poverty, and perceived discrimination.1
Interventions to help with stress
People who have the ability to “respond to stress in more adaptive ways” may be able to prevent or reduce stress.1
Interventions that have been studied to help individuals better respond to stress include:
Stress management training
The response to a stress may be lessened with stress management training. Such training includes education on the impact of stress on health and learning how to use relaxation techniques during a stressful event. In a recent study, these techniques reduce A1c by 0.5 percent.1
Diabetes self-management education
Diabetes self-management education with ongoing support from the diabetes health care team can help lessen stress by reducing diabetes related stress.1
Additional ideas for managing stress
- Use of relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or tai-chi3
- Talk with a trusted friend or family member
- Attend a local support group
- Make time for a new hobby
- Keep a journal
- Get plenty of sleep (lack of sleep may increase stress and may contribute to higher blood glucose levels)
- Most important: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There is no shame in seeking help from a mental health professional3
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?