Taking Care of Stress
I think we can agree that the last year has been extremely stressful for those of us living in Detroit and the surrounding area. With all the things happening with the economy, job losses, home foreclosures, lackluster sports seasons and the brutal cold weather, it’s easy to get stuck in the doldrums.
Many people are unaware that the stress in their lives is affecting their blood sugar levels. Stressors cause your body to go into a “fight or flight” response. Your body is preparing to run or fight off a threat so that you can stay safe. A “stressor” or “threat” these days could be anything from financial issues to struggles in your personal life. In a stress phase your:
- Heart beats faster
- Blood pressure goes up
- Muscles get tense
- Breathing gets shallow
- Stress hormones are released that act to raise blood sugar
A little bit of stress is beneficial in certain circumstances, such as keeping you alert at work or motivating you to work efficiently. Stress over a long period of time though, keeps your body in the “fight or flight” mode for too long. This can be detrimental to your health…especially for those who have diabetes.
Stress will have a direct effect on your diabetes. It can cause your blood sugar to get too high or too low. You could get symptoms such as muscle aches, diarrhea, tiredness, shortness of breath, and headaches. Stress can also have an indirect effect on your diabetes such as causing you to become irritable, anxious, angry, depressed or have low self-esteem. You may over-eat, miss medications, change eating habits, smoke, turn to alcohol, or spend too much money. Whether the effect that stress has on your diabetes is direct or indirect all of these changes are harmful for your health and diabetes control and may cause a vicious circle of stress in your life.
Let's talk stress management. It is beneficial to target two areas of stress management.
- Body - methods that help the physical changes that occur during times of stress.
- Mind - methods that target the emotional side of stress, or your feelings in order to help you become more positive.
Strategies that can help ease the stress on your body.
- Deep breathing exercises
- Relaxation training
- Biofeedback training
Doing these relaxation exercises on a regular basis can help you to bring down your heart rate, pulse rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.
Ten steps to help reduce emotional stress
1. Find the cause of your stress. It’s not always clear especially if you feel overwhelmed and it seems like everything is going wrong. Take time to identify the “stressor”.
2. List the parts of your stress that are beyond your control. You will always find something in a situation that there is nothing you can do about.
3. Learn to accept what you cannot change. It is a waste of your time and energy to dwell on these things. Put effort into working on the things you know you can control.
4. Recognize the parts of stress that you can control. This starts with your outlook on things. Getting an outside opinion from friends and family can help as well.
5. Plan changes by setting short-term goals. Make a goal and then break it down into something you can reach in the next week or two.
6. List the steps you need to take to reach your goals. Then take one step at a time.
7. Expect some setbacks. Things will always come up…you know they do.
8. Be ready for possible solutions for any setbacks that occur. Have a plan!
9. Learn from your mistakes and reward yourself for achievements.
10. NEVER GIVE UP!
Your physical and emotional health is vital for your well-being. Don’t let the stress in your life rob you of it. Incorporate stress management techniques into your lifestyle and stay positive.
The Diabetes and Nutrition Services Staff wish you continued success in your healthy lifestyle.