Stress comes from lots of things, and the sources may be different for each of us: work, exercise, deadlines, tests, friends/family, illness, traffic, etc. The effects happen because of changes in hormone levels, which mess with blood sugars since insulin is a hormone. Stress increases some hormones (cortisol, adrenaline) and decreases others (INSULIN). Less insulin means that less sugar is taken out of the blood. On top of that: stress increases the amount of sugar our bodies put into the blood to prepare for “fight or flight”.
So, we can see how stress raises blood sugar; but, we can blunt the effect by better managing stress. I know, I know: easier said than done. Trust me, being an anxious and easily excited person myself, I know what it’s like to want fix something, but feel like you can never truly get there. Keep in mind, though, that any step towards stress management counts!
There are lots of stress-reducing strategies, and what works for one person might not work for another; but, what is important is that we recognize stress and have a plan. Need stress-relief strategies? Take a look at this list:
– Step away and practice deep breathing. Imagine the stress leaving the body as you exhale.
– Sit quietly and imagine being in a calm place
– Close your eyes and focus all thoughts on ONE thing (could be anything!) for 10 minutes
– Practice muscle relaxation by tensing an area of the body (start with your toes and work up) and then relaxing it.
– Listen to relaxing music
– Write or draw
– Do yoga
– Go for a walk or move around to get your blood flowing
I have tried lots of these, and one thing I learned in my experience is that if I don’t do it all the way, then I don’t get anywhere. Honestly, some of these ideas sound extreme and silly to me; and, while I know that they work for some people, I could not fully commit when trying them; so, naturally, they haven’t worked.
Recently, yoga has surprisingly helped me do lots of things on that list all at once. Rather than worrying about what the people around me will think of me when I exhale loudly (as instructed to do), I just do it. No one is making fun of me, and it really does feel good. Yoga seems to help me: control breathing, focus on one thing (balancing to avoid falling on my face!), listen to relaxing music, sit in a calm/quiet place, and get my blood flowing. That’s a whole lot of birds with one stone, if you ask me!
How are your blood sugars affected by stress? Which stress-management strategies work best for you? Will you try any of these ideas after reading this?