How Does Stress Affect Diabetes?

Stress is your body’s way of reacting to pressure, and it is not always a negative thing when we feel stressed. In small amounts, stress motivates us and provides the extra bit of energy we need to do our best — for instance before a competition or important work presentation.

However, stress can affect our lives negatively when poorly managed or when the level of stress is too much for us. It can make you feel exhausted, irritable and impulsive, leading you to make poor lifestyles choices which might in turn make it harder for glycemic control.

Related: Why Coping With Diabetes as a Teenager Is No Easy Feat

Stress Management is Part of Diabetes Management

For people with Type 2 diabetes or Type 1 diabetes, diabetes care is much more than monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels.

To get a good handle of your condition, you’ll need to take a more holistic approach, including learning how to manage or respond to stressful situations[2].

How to Reduce Stress

Here are a few quick and easy stress reduction techniques.

RE-vive Your Mind

  • Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing to refocus.
  • Practice mindfulness. Whatever you are doing, be aware of the present moment. Calmly acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
  • Take breaks like doodling and listening to music to clear your mind and create positive emotions.

RE-charge Your Body

  • Exercise to release tension from stiff muscles.
  • Get enough sleep to “reset” your body to face the challenges of a new day.

RE-work Your Schedule

  • Plan your time and resources so you can fit in all aspects of diabetes management like checking blood glucose levels, taking medication, exercising regularly and eating well.

RE-ach Out

  • Join a support group to gain support and coping tips on dealing with diabetes-related stress.
  • Connect with loved ones, friends or a helping professional so they can help you see different perspectives to your situation.

Related: Mindful about Mindfulness

Stress Is Not the Enemy

Remember that stress is not the enemy. Quite the opposite, stress can motivate and drive you to carry out the daily tasks and routines essential to managing diabetes.

There are different types of stress. The key is to know your stressors and take one small step at a time to manage them effectively. Soon, you’ll be able to turn life stressors into useful life experiences and use them to build your resilience and inner strength.

The trick is to manage your stress in ways that work for you. There is no “right way” to manage stress. Use methods and techniques that suit your personality and lifestyle.

Make Plans to Better Manage Diabetes

Planning makes a big difference. Make time to exercise, eat nutritious meals, monitor blood glucose levels and take your insulin. Having a plan will help you through challenging or stressful moments.

Stay optimistic and positive. People with diabetes do lead to enriching and fulfilling lives too!

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  1. Cummings, D. M., Kirian, K., Howard, G., Howard, V., Yuan, Y., Muntner, P., et al. (2016, Jan). Consequences of Comorbidity of Elevated Stress and/or Depressive Symptoms and Incident Cardiovascular Outcomes in Diabetes: Results From the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study. Diabetes Care, 39(1), p 101-109.
    Retrieved December 2016 from

  2. Saraei, F. H., Hatami, H., & Bagheri, F. (2016, Jul). Effectiveness of Stress Management on Glycemic Control and Change of some of Mental Health Indicators (Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Quality of Life) among Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Mediterranean Journal of Social Science, 7(4), p 258-265.
    Retrieved December 2016 from