Stress has become a familiar companion for many of us. It’s the tension we feel at work, the worries about family, or simply the challenges of daily life. Stress is something many of us experience in our busy lives. It’s a common reaction to life’s challenges and can affect our bodies and minds, even making our blood sugar levels go up. While stress alone doesn’t give you diabetes, there’s evidence that ongoing stress for a long time will raise your chances of getting it.
Diabetes and stress often go hand in hand. Stress can make it harder to handle diabetes, and having diabetes can bring more stress. Stress can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, making it challenging for those with diabetes to manage their condition effectively. On the other hand, unmanaged diabetes can lead to increased stress and health complications.
Stress and its Effects on the Body
Stress is our body’s way of responding to challenging situations. When we’re stressed, our body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones prepare us for a “fight or flight” response. Our heart rate increases, and we become more alert, getting ready for action.
The Stress-Diabetes Connection
Blood Sugar Spikes: When we’re stressed, our body releases extra glucose into our bloodstream to provide quick energy for our muscles. This is a natural response and causes a temporary increase in blood sugar levels. For most people, this isn’t a problem because their bodies can regulate these sugar spikes. But for people with diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes, these stress-induced blood sugar spikes can make it harder to control their condition.Insulin Resistance: Prolonged or chronic stress condition can exacerbate condition known as insulin resistance associated with abdominal obesity. In simple terms, think of insulin as a key that allows sugar to enter our cells. When we’re stressed for an extended period, our cells may not respond properly to insulin, making it harder for sugar to enter our cells. As a result, our blood sugar levels can rise, which is a significant factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms: People often resort to unhealthy ways of coping with stress, like overeating. These choices can lead to weight gain, and excess weight is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Stress can contribute to this risk by encouraging poor eating habits.Neglecting Self-Care: A stressed person will have lesser duration of sleep with poor sleep quality. Stress can make people neglect self-care practices. They might become less active, skip medications, or ignore healthy meal planning. This can worsen diabetes management and cause higher blood sugar levels.
Managing stress to prevent or control diabetes
Relaxation Techniques: Simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help manage stress. These activities calm the body’s stress response and lower blood sugar levels.Regular Physical Activity: Exercise reduces stress and helps the body use glucose more effectively. It’s a crucial part of diabetes management and stress reduction.Healthy Eating: Opt for a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid overindulging in sugary or high-fat comfort foods when stressed.Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get enough restful sleep. Ensure as much as possible that your sleep beings by 11pm and you sleep for 8 Hours. Sleep deprivation can increase stress and disrupt your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.Social Engagement : Always try to spend time with your friends and family as much as possible Also engage, actively in community activies. So, such social engagements and talking about your stress and concerns can help you cope better.
The connection between stress and diabetes is real, but it doesn’t have to control your life. While stress itself doesn’t directly cause diabetes, it can contribute to its development and management. By managing stress through relaxation techniques, regular exercise, healthy eating, sufficient sleep, and seeking support when needed, you can reduce the impact of stress on your body and lower your risk of developing or worsening diabetes. Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way towards promoting overall well-being and helping you lead a healthier, stress-free life.
About the Author: DR. Vikrant Gosavi is a Consultant in Endocrinology at Manipal Hospitals Pune. All views/opinions expressed in the article are of the author.