Diabetes and Stress – How Are They connected?
A lot has been said and written about stress in the past few decades. Everyone knows that stress can have a profound effect on both your mind and your body, aggravating or even causing health conditions just like any physical factor would. When it comes to Type 2 Diabetes, patients who experience extra pressures of stress have been shown to experience faster-progressing disease. Under stress, the diabetes patients sustain more harm to their body and a generally more aggravated disease than patients that are able to successfully manage stress. In the case of diabetes in particular and any other condition in general stress is now considered to be one of the leading causes of death as it manifests itself into a wide array of medical conditions.
Stress is defined as a reaction to pressure, both physical and emotional, that is perceived as a form of threat, both real or imagined. This response to a threat is also recognized as the “fight or flight” response that is intrinsic and natural in humans.
Stress is particularly dangerous for patients with diabetes as it is able to affect blood glucose levels. Stress affects the body’s blood sugar levels both directly and indirectly. The change in blood sugar level immediately occurs during the “fight or flight” response as the body releases cortisol, epinephrine (adrenaline) and glucagon, the stress hormone, when a threat is perceived. Your blood sugar raises naturally so that your body has enough energy to “fight” or ” flee”. If you closely monitor your sugar levels, you may notice that it goes up when your stress level increases and lowers when your stress levels decrease. Stress hormones release also increases your blood pressure so that you can respond to the real or perceived danger. Chronic stress can cause chronically high blood pressure, which can lead to a build-up of plaque and further damage to your arteries. This is another risk factor for Diabetic patients possibly developing cardio-vascular diseases as they are already predisposed to those just from having diabetes.
Apart from this, diabetes itself can be a cause of constant stress for a patient, simply from having to deal with the disease and medications. There are always discomfort, and side effects, and of course patients are understandably worried about their future. All of this can lead to chronic stress, and stress,a s was shown above, can aggravated diabetes, thus creating a viscous self-perpetuating cycle. This is why it is crucial to learn some stress management techniques, especially if you are a diabetic patient.
MANAGING STRESS WITH DIABETES
Knowing how to deal with stress, or stress management, is one of the best ways to lessen its impacts on your health. It is important to learn to control your emotions and reactions in your every day life. Some relaxation techniques could also be very useful in preventing complications of stress, especially when diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to relax and destress. Vigorous exercising helps you release endorphines – happyness hormones – that will make you feel good both in the moment and after exercising. Jogging, swimming, weight-lifting, dancing and any other exercises will not only improve your mood, but also have a range of positive physical benefits for your body. Exercise can help oxygenate your blood, clear your arteries, improve circulation and blood flow. It will help you lose weight, and make you leaner and stronger. Good muscle weight is one of the health benefits of exercise particularly important for diabetics, as high muscle weight can help store carbohydrates more efficiently and helps control blood glucose levels.
Exercise also helps you burn carbohydrates more efficiently which can help control hyperglycemia. Training and exercising can also help cut down the excess fat in your body. Excess fat, especially in the abdominal area, is one of the risk factors of diabetes and can disrupt your metabolism, your blood sugar levels and many other healthy body functions.
If you find it hard to commit to vigorous exercising, you can try something that’s less demanding, such as yoga. Another type of exercise that involves a combination of breathing and mild physical activity is Tai Chi. It is an ancient form of martial arts that is overlooked when it comes to its overall health potential.
Meditation is an extremely powerful tool that effectively controls stress. Regular meditation, whether alone or in a group environment, can significantly bring down stress levels and relax the body. Don’t think of meditation as something religious or spiritual. Meditation can be as simple and basic as simply closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing, or just one sight, such as a view of the trees out of your window, or blue sky, something you can imagine in your mind’s eye. The important thing is to stop thinking about too many things and help your body relax. You will be surprised how different you will feel after even your first meditation session. Regular meditation can help you achieve a whole new level of relaxation and long-standing piece in your life.
You are fighting a serious disease, and you need others in your life – people you can talk to and share your feelings and possibly fears with. Keeping your emotions bottled up inside can cause stress to grow and accumulate over time, which is never a good idea. By letting things out, you will be able to feel heard and understood, and also to hear other people’s perspectives. You may be surprised how supportive people often are, even when they aren’t your close family or friends. Try joining a support group, an online community or an actual real life group of people with similar issues as yours. Also, don’t forget about your connections with other people – maybe someone you work with, or have a common hobby with. Your disease doesn’t have to take over your whole world, in fact, the more you distract yourself and find pleasure in every day life no matter what, the less stress you will experience and the more chances you will have to successfully control your condition. Remember, no matter what, your life is in your hands and under your control, and you can always make it better!
If you find that you cannot manage stress on your own and have a hard time maintaining good mental state, you might need help. Never feel bad about consulting with your doctor, or therapist, or even a psychologist. This is nothing to be ashamed of or feel bad about. A qualified person will have tools and ways to help you beyond anything you can even imagine and there is no reason not to use help when you need it. You are already dealing with a tricky health condition and there is no need to add stress and mental hardship to it, and especially to go it all alone. Remember that you are not alone, and that there is always help if you need it.