Stress is a fact of life. Most people have to cope with the day-to-day hassles of traffic jams, busy schedules, sick children and so on. People also have to deal with major stress-causing events from time to time. Job lay-offs, serious illnesses and other life-affecting events can send stress levels soaring. Even happy occasions such as weddings or vacations can contribute to stress.
Stress can be unhealthy for anyone. For people with diabetes, stress can be even more harmful because it can adversely affect blood glucose levels.
Stress releases a number of stress hormones or chemicals into the body. These hormones can cause blood glucose levels to soar. Without insulin to compensate, the result can be a dangerous "spike" in blood glucose.
At the same time, stress can distract you from the vital task of managing your diabetes. When you're busy and stressed, it's all too easy to let your physical activity schedule slide, to skip a routine blood glucose check, or to be less careful with your food choices. The end result can be a loss of control over blood glucose levels.
If you have diabetes, you need to take especially good care of yourself during stressful times. The key is to stick to your diabetes care routine, even if it seems extra hard. You'll be glad you did.
You also need to learn how to cope with stress effectively. There are many strategies for doing this. Physical activity is excellent for reducing stress levels. So are disciplines like yoga, tai chi and meditation.
The support of family members and friends can also be a huge help when you are coping with stress. Don't be embarrassed to tell them when you are feeling stressed, and to ask for their assistance.
You may also want to consider joining a local support group for people with diabetes. Many people find it easier to cope with stress when they can discuss their problems and frustrations with people who share the same health concerns. If you think this would help you, ask your diabetes care team how you can find a support group in your area.
Coping with the demands of diabetes may sometimes make you feel angry, guilty, anxious or depressed. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about these feelings. Help is available.
Many people are frightened and dismayed when they first learn they have diabetes. Part of the fear comes from just not knowing how the diagnosis will affect their lives. Diabetes does lead people to make changes in the way they live. The good news is, those changes can be very positive. Most people find that controlling their weight, eating well and becoming physically active not only makes them feel healthier, but gives them tremendous personal satisfaction. There's a lot to learn about diabetes, but the first thing to know is this: diabetes can be managed!
The other incredibly important fact is this: you have the power to live a full, satisfying life. You yourself will make the biggest difference in managing your diabetes. You can do it by developing a regular exercise plan, by following your meal plan, taking your medications as prescribed and monitoring your blood glucose regularly. These are not just short-term adjustments, but are overall changes that you need to become the "new you."
So take control! You'll be healthier, you'll feel better, and you'll even look better for it! In living with diabetes, you can control your future!