Stress: It’s Not All In Your Head!
When your body is under attack—or when it feels attacked—it will naturally have a fight or flight response, with the hormonal reaction this entails.
Cortisol and adrenaline, among other hormones, increase glucose levels, which is quickly transported to cells to provide the body with energy. Diabetes causes insulin to not always play its role effectively, which can lead to hyperglycemia. And if you’re living with type 1 diabetes, beware: you are also at risk of hypoglycemia.
To develop better defense mechanisms, do some soul-searching:
• Identify the causes of your stress. Make absolutely sure to assess the situation realistically. (No, this is not the end of the world!) This will give you a head start on finding solutions.
• Catch the dark thoughts as soon as they pop up and replace them with positive ones.
Be careful not to go overboard!
Did you know that depression afflicts 30% of people living with diabetes, 10% of which have to live with severe depression?
A depressed mood leads to a less healthy lifestyle. An increase or decrease in appetite, for example, will cause problems for diet balance. Note that signs of hypoglycemia and those of stress can be confused: the lack of energy, to name one. All of this results in less efficient management of blood glucose, which can lead to other health problems.
A vicious circle
Diabetes itself may be a stressor. It can elicit unpleasant emotions, with consequences on the body that lead to a sense of loss of control or isolation.
Diabetes will not disappear overnight. It cannot be escaped or fought. But there are ways to manage it so that it doesn’t become an insurmountable challenge.
Finding a plan of attack
- Effective management of diabetes symptoms creates a reassuring routine. But if one or more elements of this routine prove harmful, make the necessary changes.
- Before testing your blood glucose, rate your stress level on a scale of 1 to 10. Write the two numbers side by side—eventually, you’ll be able to better predict the effects of stress on your blood glucose level.
Other simple ideas include having a good laugh, breathing deeply or going outside for a breath of fresh air. Regular physical activity can also help you get your smile back. One last piece of advice is to set aside some guilt-free time for yourself.
Diabetes Québec, “Stress et diabète”: http://www.diabete.qc.ca/html/vivre_avec_diabete/stress.html. Accessed March 28, 2014.
Canadian Diabetes Association, "Depression”: http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/complications/depression. Accessed March 28, 2014.
American Diabetes Association, “Mental Health”: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mental-health/?loc=lwd-slabnav. Accessed March 28, 2014.
American Diabetes Association, “Depression”: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mental-health/depression.html. Accessed March 28, 2014.
American Diabetes Association, “Stress”: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/mental-health/stress.html. Accessed March 28, 2014.