While we know stress doesn’t cause diabetes, there is a link between stress and blood sugar levels, so it can affect your day to day handling of your condition.
Being diagnosed with diabetes or any chronic illness causes stress, that’s natural; it’s your body’s reaction to a new and challenging situation! You have to come to terms quickly with a diagnosis that changes your life, and this stress is only amplified when you feel like you or others don’t understand it.
Stress isn’t healthy for anyone, diabetic or not. However, when you have diabetes, stress can have a specific impact on both your insulin and your blood sugar levels.
When the body becomes stressed, it releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into your system. In a person with diabetes, these hormones can make it harder for your insulin to work. When cortisol is released, it triggers your bodies natural ‘fight or flight’ reaction – this can cause your heartbeat and breathing to speed up. However, it also releases glucose stored in your liver into your blood so the energy can get throughout your system. In a person with diabetes, the pancreas struggles to keep up with the high demand for insulin, causing insulin resistance. As the energy can’t get into the cells, this causes your blood sugar levels to rise.
If your blood sugar levels rise too much, this can cause a ‘hyper’ (hyperglycaemia) which can lead to you feeling thirsty, lethargic and give you a headache. If the stress doesn’t go away, it can keep your blood sugar levels high and put you at a higher risk of other diabetes complications, as well as affecting your day to day mood and how you look after yourself and your condition.
But don’t worry! There are plenty of things you can do to take the pressure off.
Putting yourself first should always be top of your priority list, but it’s easy for that to take a backseat when you’re feeling stressed. When you’re stressed, take control of the aspects you can change about your life and learn to say no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load. Jot in a bit of time in your diary for some well needed you time. Spend time with your friends and family, go on a nice walk, light a candle, listen to soothing music. Whatever it may be, just take some time to step back and relax. Look at this page to get some tips on how you can relive stress.
The bottom line is stress will always find a way to wiggle itself into your life, but by making time for things that can relieve it, it can become much more bearable for you in your day to day life.
It doesn’t matter whether the stress you’re feeling is related to diabetes or not; it’s getting the support you need to manage it that is important. Our pharmacists are trained to support you in managing your diabetes. Register with Spirit Pharmacy to receive your medication. You will have access to a team who can answer your queries and help you with any challenges you may be facing because of stress. Confidential advice is available to all people registered with the pharmacy, as well as access to online diabetes education if you would like it.