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Stress and Diabetes

Almost all diabetics know that diabetes is an emotional illness. That is not to say that it provokes strong emotions, but rather strong emotions, such as crying, laughing, getting angry, stress, adrenaline, etc. significantly affect glucose levels. For example, your blood sugar is at 100 and after an angry spell, it shoots up to 200 without apparently having done anything. This is even more noticeable in infants and children as they are usually more sensitive to emotions, but a stressed adult experiences this as well. What can we do to prevent it? Or, at least manage it so it does not affect us so much?

Stress is normal, there are even studies that consider that a certain degree of this is good (we cannot live in pure tranquility). However, people with diabetes are more vulnerable. Physical factors, such as an illness, or psychosocial factors, such as problems at work, also affect us. Well, add this to the disease itself: the ups and downs of blood sugar, disaccord in controls, not following a healthy lifestyle … all this can be reduced by a few techniques.

But why does our blood sugar spike with stress?

Stress is a hormone that is put into action in physical moments like when you get an injury, have a cold or an infection, and psychosocial moments like saying goodbye, have emotional moments, unhappy times or in moments of great excitement, causing adrenaline rushes. Well, in times like these, stress hormones including epinephrine, the growth hormone, and glucocorticoids soar – entering a state of action. What do these hormones do? They release existing liver stores of glucose into the blood stream in order to give the body more energy in the form of glucose to combat stress or flee from it. In people with diabetes, since we do not produce insulin, this is reflected in a sugar rush, whereas people without diabetes usually respond by secreting the pancreatic hormone -> insulin.

And if it lasts a long time?

Sometimes the stress is temporary, such as a normal spell of anger or a child’s tantrum. But there are other times that this state is maintained for a long period, for example, when recovering from an operation or coming out of depression or anxiety. In these cases and always when evaluated by a doctor, the only way to combat it is to find relaxation techniques and increase diabetes medication until the body returns to its normal state of tranquility.

How do I control it?

First we must not add fuel to the fire, since the situation itself already affects us, the best thing would be to try out abalanced diet, refraining from eating compulsively, and of course doing mild exercise, such as walking in order to slowly lower thoseglucose levels. Exercise yields happiness.

Sugar levels should be controlled more and measurements should be noted, as well as the units of insulin we inject, and the degree of stress we have at the time, as it will help us to see how these things affects us.
Perform relaxation exercises and try to consciously change negative thoughts into positive ones. It is best to be taught by a professional and then practice the techniques at home, but there are books and videos that can help.

Avoid what causes you stress. For example, if traffic jams cause you to arrive late for work -> look for an alternative -> take the subway, bus, train …

Find someone to talk to, a friend, family member … if there is no specialist available.

Find a hobby , we ought to have time for ourselves.

Periods of stress living with the disease

In a diabetic, the clearest cases of stress are:
1. When the disease is detected.
2. When you are going through a new stage in life: parenting, new job, wedding…
3. Diabetes and other priorities: work, children and diabetes, caring for one?s romantic relationship, work and diabetes…
4. When a complication with the diabetes is detected.

What techniques are there?

Breathing Exercises. While seated or lying down, inhale as much air as you can take in a deep breath and then exhale all the air you can, and repeat again and again.

Progressive relaxation therapy. This is the technique which can be learnt in a group or through an audiotape on how to flex all your muscles and then relax them all slowly one by one.

Exercise: The muscles can be relaxed in a circular motion, by stretching and moving different body parts. It is sometimes recommended to performthese with music in order to also relax your mind.

Switch to constructive and positive thoughts: Whenever negative thoughts surface, you should think of something that makes you feel happy or proud. Memorizing a poem, quote or sentence may serve to change negative thoughts.

In any case, alterations may be important in daily control, so if this situation is prolonged, it is best to consult your doctor.

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