Stress can be a significant motivating factor in your diabetes management. Can you imagine, you are experiencing a low blood sugar episode and your body treats it like it is no big deal? The potential danger of the situation allows you to be proactive in that moment so you can get your blood sugars back into a safe range quickly. But like anything else in life, too much of a good thing can actually be bad. Continue reading to find out how different types of stress may be making your blood sugar more difficult to manage.
Different Types of Stress
When you think of stress, you are likely thinking about feeling like you are under lots of pressure with a project at work, going through a big life transition, or worried about the outcome of a situation. While oftentimes stress can be tangible, the everyday chronic stress your body experiences can pile up and negatively impact your diabetes management. Here are a few areas of chronic stress that often are overlooked and what you can do about it.
Blood Sugar Variability
Everyone will experience variability in their blood sugar levels, but when you experience extreme levels of variability it can lead to oxidative stress and inflammation in your body. Inflammation and oxidative stress are both contributing factors to insulin resistance, which can make blood sugar levels more difficult to manage. If your blood sugars are constantly bouncing from one extreme to another, you should work with your care team around reducing the high amount of variability in your blood sugar.
Managing your gut health is a key component of managing your diabetes, but persistently elevated stress levels can negatively affect your gut health. When your gastrointestinal tract is constantly inflamed from high stress levels, it can cause delayed digestion, gastrointestinal distress, or even develop into serious digestive conditions like gastroparesis. With gastroparesis, the delayed gastric emptying can lead to periods of very high or very low blood sugar. Working with a dietitian and your healthcare team can help with reducing the inflammatory response, work to heal your gut, and manage your blood sugar levels.
Lack of Sleep
Decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar levels. When you are experiencing sleep deprivation, stress hormones (cortisol), oxidative stress, and inflammation are high which increases blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. The National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Take a look at your sleep quality and quantity and see how this may be disrupting your blood sugar management.
What Can You Do?
So, what can you do to reduce stress so that it doesn’t have a prominent effect on your blood sugar levels? This answer will depend on the route cause of your stress. Some examples of stress management include:
- Adequate sleep
- Getting fresh air
- Medication and yoga
- Music and art therapy
- Eat a balanced diet
- Quality time with family and friends
Want to learn more about how stress and inflammation may be affecting your blood sugars? Check out episode 13 on Keeping it 100 Radio: Uncensored Diabetes Conversations with Lissie Poyner and guest Mia Giommi to discuss how your everyday lifestyle factors can actually be doing more harm than good for your diabetes management. Listen now on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.