Stress Management: A Critical Skill in Type 2 Diabetes
Carbohydrates and sugar in food are obvious “offenders” when it comes to high blood sugars. However, did you know that stress can also increase blood sugars – regardless of food? Stress can present itself in many ways – situational (at work or home), as mental anxiety or depression, or even physical stress such as an infection or a worsening medical condition. All types of stress create a physiological response in the body causing a surge of cortisol hormone and inflammatory chemicals, which directly causes high blood sugars. These spikes in blood sugars can be seen real-time on a continuous glucose monitor or measured on a finger-stick reading.
Just like monitoring carbs is important, becoming aware of stressors in your life and learning healthy coping habits is essential for managing type 2 diabetes. Check out some of our ideas to help fight stress:
GET SOME SLEEP
Sleep is essential for recharging your brain, body, and keeping hormonal balance. In general, those who sleep more hours per night, report much lower levels of stress and better health. Adults require at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Researchers have also found better sleep leads to improved eating habits and higher energy levels – both good for the regulation of glucose. Having trouble sleeping? Consider these tips:
- Increase bright light exposure throughout the day (get outside and see sunshine!)
- Reduce blue light exposure (phone/computer) at night
- Don’t drink caffeine later in the day
- Sleep in a cooler temperature (around 70 degrees)
- Consider natural supplements: Melatonin, Valerian Root, and Lavender
- Talk with your doctor – Rule out any sleep disorders and consider medications if necessary.
Exercise is another popular method for dealing with daily stress. Physical activity releases endorphins – chemicals produced in the brain that make you naturally feel good! Relaxation/meditation is another way for your body to produce endorphins. Yoga is a great way to combine both mediation and exercise. If joining a gym is out of your budget, look at free apps and YouTube videos to help develop workout routines and relaxation techniques. Stressed out at work? Try just a five-minute walk around the building!
It’s important to have a strong support system to help you work through stressful situations. When family and friends aren’t enough, or if you don’t have any that you can confide in, consider contacting a licensed professional. Your doctor or insurance company likely has a list of resources that may be covered and available to you.
Time to reflect on what makes you happy – since everyone is unique! Maybe its spending more time with people you love, drinking tea, taking a warm bath, or even listening to a certain song.