For many of us, stress is an everyday part of our life that we can’t seem to get rid of. While small amounts of anxiety are healthy in certain situations, too much of it becomes a constant hindrance that prevents us from accomplishing important tasks. Stress can be particularly harmful for individuals with diabetes because of how it affects blood glucose levels in their body. In this post, we’ll talk about how anxiety impacts diabetic health, and provide some strategies to manage it as well.
Stress is a natural reaction that occurs when our body feels that it is in danger. What is commonly known as the “flight or fight” response kicks in, and in order to meet its demands blood glucose levels are elevated to increase energy. Most individuals have ways to regulate the amount of sugar in their body, but for diabetics they either lack these mechanisms to begin with, or have them damaged to the extent that they are no longer efficient. Taking this into consideration, it is important for those with this disease to be especially vigilant in managing their anxiety. Having consistently high sugar levels can lead to the development of serious health issues such as blindness, neuropathy, strokes and kidney problems.
Although one can use medication to handle a rise in blood glucose caused by stress, it is always better to tackle the root cause of the problem itself. Basically, if one is able to lessen or eliminate their anxiety then the reliance on prescription drugs is weakened. Not only this, but other symptoms caused by stress that cannot be alleviated by diabetic medication disappear as well.
There a few practical steps that anyone can use to help manage their anxiety. We here at Diabetv recommend the following:
Learn Breathing Techniques: Controlling one’s breath can be crucial in helping alleviate stress. Some activities such as tai chi and yoga incorporate this as part of their practice, but you can even teach yourself breathing techniques with the help of various online sources.
Aerobic Exercise: Physical activity which pushes the heart work has been shown to help reduce stress levels. This is because the body releases naturally occurring hormones known as endorphins that cause us to experience euphoric emotions.
Proper nutrition: Omega-3 is thought to help reduce anxiety and depression by helping with the production of serotonin in the brain. Foods rich in these fatty acids are fish, nuts, wild rice, flax and legumes.
Natural remedies: Lavender has been well researched in its ability to relieve general anxiety. Saint John’s Wort may be even more impressive, as this herb has shown to produce many of the same effects as SSRIs such as Prozac. However, it is important to note that if one is already on one of these types of anti-depressants, coupling it with this herbal medicine can result in a dangerous interaction.
Adequate sleep: This one is more difficult to implement than the others; usually our lack of sleep is caused by too much anxiety! Nonetheless, it is important to remember that when we are tired we become even more susceptible to experiencing stress.