Managing stress can help you manage your diabetes

In a modern world that moves at an increasingly fast pace, keeping stress levels low is an important part of our overall health. When the body feels stressed, it releases hormones that have been found to increase blood sugar levels. Finding ways to keep stress low is essential in helping manage blood sugar levels—especially for those with diabetes.

Why managing blood sugar levels is important

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, keeping your blood sugar at healthy levels is especially important, as uncontrolled blood sugar levels can put you at higher risk for health complications such as kidney problems or blindness. In addition, prolonged elevated blood sugar levels have been shown to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.¹ It is important to identify how you react to stress as well as how you can minimize it.

Common reactions to and remedies for stress

How stress is dealt with varies from one person to the next, but here are some common reactions.

  • Shortness of breath: If you tend to experience shortness of breath when you get stressed, take a few minutes to breathe deeply.
  • Difficulty sleeping: If you have difficulty sleeping when stressed, take time to prepare yourself for bed 30 minutes before you want to sleep by changing into comfortable clothes, turning off lights, and shutting off electronics.
  • Skipping meals: If skipping meals is a common response for you, prepare healthy snacks to eat throughout the day.
  • Stress-eating: If stress-eating is a typical reaction for you, practice being extra mindful of your hunger sensations and your eating habits to make sure that when you do eat, you are in fact responding to hunger—not stress—and that you are making healthy food choices.
  • Difficulty focusing on/completing work: Another popular symptom of stress can be difficulty focusing on or completing work. Write down your assignments and their due dates and specific actions that you need to take. Prioritize your projects to create a more manageable plan to get your work done.

Take time to de-stress

Since both physical and emotional stress are common in our modern world and can cause blood sugar levels to rise, it is essential to find ways to de-stress that work for you. Some common forms of stress-lowering practices are deep breathing, meditation, yoga, taking a walk, and talking out your stress with a friend. Identify how you are able to de-stress—the more you enjoy your relaxation activity, the more likely you are to continue to use it when you feel your stress levels begin to rise.

1., “Diabetes and Health”, accessed September 8, 2014,

Sources, “Diabetes and Health”, accessed September 8, 2014,

SLPC 26212 10/14 (exp. 10/16)

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