No doubt, one of the natural elements of life is stress, and this is a situation that almost everyone faces in one capacity or the other on a daily basis. Stress has been linked to several ailments, chief of which are depression and diabetes.
In fact, medical experts have opined that stress – whether mental or physical – can bring about unexpected changes in blood sugar levels. This could trigger symptoms associated with diabetes.
Stress is the mental, physical or emotional tension or strain that arises when you feel you are not capable of coping with pressure. When you feel threatened or experience stress, your body reacts by releasing stress hormones which allow cells to access stored energy – glucose or fat – so that the body can quickly get out of a danger zone.
During this biochemical process, your body discharges cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream, thus increasing your respiratory rates. Your body automatically directs blood to your limbs and muscles which fire you up to fight the situation.
However, here is where the problem lies; if your body cannot convert glucose into energy, there is a buildup of sugar in your bloodstream. This leads to the sudden elevation of blood glucose levels.
Although there is no concrete evidence to substantially prove that stress (emotional) is responsible for diabetes, healthcare professionals believe this is the case as a result of the changes or rise in hormonal levels as a result of stress.
Almost everyone has one emotional disturbance or the other such as illnesses like urinary tract infection or pneumonia or other challenges in life such as:
- handling divorce
- dissatisfaction with one’s career
- financial insecurity
- work pressure
- traffic, etc.
All these life’s issues can bring physical stress to bear on the body. These are the long-term stressors which could have adverse effects on blood sugar levels. Sooner or later, both mental and physical stress wears down the human body which could bring about depression as well as other health issues.
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing complications with their health as against those with prediabetes symptoms. For the latter, constant frustration or stress which are brought on as a result of long-term problems can mess up their blood glucose levels terribly.
For example, people living with diabetes may inadvertently forget to keep track of their blood sugar levels, ignore them altogether or even adopt a poor diet or lifestyle as a result of stress.
The extent of the impact of stress on blood sugar levels varies from one person to another. Medical studies into stress and its attendant effects on glucose levels have shown that psychological or mental stress can elevate glucose levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes and a majority of type 1 diabetics. However, glucose levels may drop in some people with type 1.
People with diabetes can reduce stress in all its forms significantly by:
- Meditation (to get rid of negative thoughts while allowing the mind to relax)
- Taking time away from work by visiting a quiet environment such as parks, etc.
- Practice yoga
- Participate in outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, etc.
- Avoid traffic by leaving earlier than usual or taking a different route, etc.
Following these practices will considerably reduce stress in people with or without diabetes.