Everyone Experiences Stress and Anxiety, Even Diabetics…….
Understanding how stress affects you is very important and yes it does play havoc with your diabetes. Let’s look at how STRESS and ANXIETY affect our body and of course then our blood sugar and our overall health.
Stress and Letting Go:
Stress is a common problem for everyone. Let’s face it, the only thing we have any control over is our OWN reaction to things. Realizing we have no control over another person, place, or thing is going to be the number one thing that will allow you the freedom to “LET GO” of other peoples “STUFF”. OK, that sounds so easy. Well, I know life can take many turns and change isn’t easy and often we can be left feeling stressed out and feeling anxious.
Starting from this point, it is so important to find a way to deal with what is going on in your life. We have many stages in life that will lead to different feelings and circumstances.
I often here people say I am so “stressed out” and when you ask them what is going on in their life that is causing the stress, they really do not know and most often feel it is just everything in their life. Well, part of that statement is most likely true, as stress usually does not come from one specific thing in our life. It is often a combination of things that have build up and you just do not know which way to turn. When you experience overload and you have not figured out a way of dealing with that overload it is going to show up in your body as STRESS. Every single person has a different way of dealing with stress. Some choices are beneficial and some are not. I have found we usually know exactly what is keeping us in a stressful situation and we just decide to stay exactly where we are.
What is Stress:
Stress is the overall response to what is going on in our life, which include our physical, mental, and emotional response. Stress often is referred to in a negative or bad situation, although, we do have to realize that stressful situations are not always negative things. A few examples of great things that go on in life that can also be considered very stressful, such as a wedding, preparing for a vacation, the news of a new baby arriving, starting a new relationship, getting a promotion at work, etc. Your body will respond to both negative and positive stress.
Where do You Start:
Sometimes we literally have to interrupt our thought pattern with a big “STOP” sign. Saying it out loud even helps. If you are dealing with a life situation where you require professional help, I strongly recommend you seek medical advice as soon as possible. I have been there and I am so glad that I took the steps necessary to get past the stressful situation in my life. Did you know that we have way more control over what is going on in our life then we realize. Each and every day we have the choice in how we want to start our day. Even in the midst of chaos we can decide how we will react. Think back to a time where you felt good, what did that look like? How did it feel? What place makes you feel good?
When we continue to add more to our life, without giving ourselves an outlet of some kind, the pressure builds up and unfortunately when that happens, we usually react in a way that doesn’t make us feel very good. Lets look at some options.
Stress can cause you to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, anxious, alone, and the list goes on and on. So how can you change this process. When you are in the middle of a stressful situation it is very difficult to find clarity. You know when the thoughts are going around and around in your head, just like the hamster wheel. Yes, we have all been there before, it sucks. I’m here to tell you It doesn’t have to be this way, we all have choices.
How Does Stress Affect Your Body:
Each and every time you have a stressful response your body goes into what is known as the “Fight or Flight” response. This is a really good thing if you are running for your life because a Saber tooth tiger is chasing you. Where this becomes a really big problem is understanding your body goes into the flight or flight response whether it is a Saber tooth tiger chasing you or you just reacted towards a situation at home, at work, while driving, or just anything that may not be going the way you would like to see it.
Each and every time you have a stressful response your body reacts in the following ways:
- Your pancreas releases more glucagon and less insulin, raising blood sugar. (as an insulin dependant diabetic, you will understand why your blood sugar is going up. Keeping in mind if you have been living with this stress for a long time you most likely have been taking more insulin because of the stress you are under.) See Webmd reference, When you are stressed your blood sugar levels rise.
- The blood from your digestive organs goes to your muscles in order for you to be ready and able to run. Remember your body doesn’t know if the stessful response is because of a Saber tooth tiger is going to chase you or you just reacted to person driving a car in a way you do not like. The blood goes to your extremities and leaving your digestive organs to fend for themselves and ultimately you will experience problems with digestion.
- Your body released less rejuvenating hormones, which causes premature aging.
- Immune system becomes suppressed and ultimately leads to illness.
- Platelets become stickier allowing for your blood to clot if you are attacked by the Saber tooth tiger. Placing your heart under unessary stress.
So it is all about the Saber tooth tiger…..well yes and no.
YES – It is important to understand what goes on in your body each and every time you have a stress response. Click here for the Harvard Health understanding the stress response.
No – it does not have to be a Saber tooth tiger for your body to experience all the same stress responses. It can be as little as having the same thought over and over again about an event in your life that is not going well. Where do you start in making change.
Where do You Start:
When you are in the middle of a stressful situation, the number one thing is to make sure you are SAFE. If you are not in a safe situation you need to do something NOW. Take even a moment to stop and become aware of what is going on. Most often when we are dealing with a stressful situation we are not breathing properly, and without the proper oxygen to the brain you cannot make any kind of decision. I know this may sound crazy right now, but stop and take a few deep relaxing breaths. Breath in through your nose right down to your stomach, hold for the count of 3 and then breath out through your nose…pause for 3, relax your shoulders and unclench your jaw. Now repeat the breathing exercise two more times. You may even feel light headed from completing this simple breathing exercise.
When you are living a stressful life it can be difficult to determine what level of stress you actually experiencing. You might want to try this free online stress test. It may be necessary to seek medical attention to get you going in the right direction. Stress seems to have a tendency to compound into all areas of our life. When in a serious stressful situation it generally includes many factors in your life, work or no work, relationship challenges, kids, family, health issues of yourself and/or others and this list can go on and on. When is STRESS just too much?
Signs of too Much Stress:
- Fatigue and problem sleeping. Not feeling rested even after a long sleep.
- Irritable and discontent, finding yourself reacting to situations that would not normally bother you. Feeling frustrated over things that are out of your control.
- Lack of motivation and difficulty focusing on anything. Rushing from one thing to another without really getting anything accomplished.
- Eating poorly and just not making time for healthy food choices.
- Muscle aches, headache, neck and shoulder pain. Jaw pain usually goes right along with this package.
Even when you feel there is nothing you can do about your situation, finding clarity for even a moment will allow you to move one step in a new direction. Ask yourself if there is just one thing you could change right now that would make you feel even a little better? Being brutally honest with yourself, if there is something that you have created in your life that is no longer serving you, reach out and take that next step that is necessary to get help. Most often FEAR is the leading cause of stress.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway:
I am sure you have heard the saying feel the fear and do it anyway, well there is something to be said for this wonderful statement. It is exactly what is necessary for making change in your life. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is acknowledging exactly where you are today and decide one baby step at a time how you will move forward. Try just for a moment to visualize your stress leaving you and seeing yourself in a better place.
Change is a Choice:
Acceptance of where you are today and how you move forward is a choice, not always an easy choice, but it is still a choice. Trust me, staying stuck is also a choice and I know from experience it isn’t much fun. You are not alone! I know in the middle of turmoil, it is very easy to say why me? It is the most empowering feeling to decide that your life, from this day forward is going to be different.
Ten things you can do today to reduce the stress in your life:
- Get up, sit quietly for a moment and decide how you would like your day to go. If at all possible take some time for yourself. If this is not possible, allow yourself to understand that where you are today is not who you are and things will get better.
- Allow yourself to be human and have a good cry and get rid of the emotional crap that may be weighing you down. Stress releases in layers, just like peeling an onion. It is important to be gentle with yourself.
- Get up, get ready for your day and make some kind of a plan that will be different from yesterday. Taking the steps to make change in your life can be a challenge. If you want different, you have to do different. Remember change starts by taking just one step at a time.
- Take you prescribed medication as assigned by your physician. If things are not working this might be a good time to make an appointment and let you health car provider know what is working and what is not.
- Get moving in what ever way possible, some kind of exercise will make you feel better. Start with simple stretches, a walk around the block, baby-steps-work.
- Plan for one thing that will make you laugh today. If you have not been out of the house, this might be a good time.
- Just sitting outside and noticing the beauty of nature can make you smile, notice the leaves on the trees, the sound of the birds, the laughter of people, the warmth of the sun, the sound of the environment around you, notice how you have become still for a moment.
- Find a support group if need be, there are lots of options, check community services in your area. You will even find online support groups.
- Create an environment that will allow you to get a restful sleep.
- Remember to “TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME.”
Disclaimer – This website does not provide medical advice or treatment recommendations. All content on type 1 diabetes treatment website is for informational purposes and is the personal experience and opinion of the author. Always seek the advice of a licensed physician with you medical questions and concerns.
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