Stress causing bad blood sugars

Jeanette Terry
By Jeanette TerryPA Latest Reply 2014-07-08 13:06:49 -0500
Started 2014-06-24 14:24:52 -0500

For me stress has always been closely tied to how well my blood sugar levels are controlled. It isn't discussed a lot, but it is a huge issue for me. In order to have good blood sugars I have to keep my stress down.

How many of you also find that stress is tied to your blood sugar numbers? And what do you do to fix it?

67 replies

angel787 2014-07-08 13:06:49 -0500 Report

Dear Jeanette, I agree with you 100%, I am under so much stress lately I can't get a handle on my blood sugars. Its a lot of work and learning how to calm yourself down.

Rose67 2014-07-02 22:40:16 -0500 Report

Stress also effects my BS. I live with it daily. I listen to my favorite music, which is gospel. I also read, breath deeply. Basically do what you enjoy, keep your mind and hands buzy.

BogeyGolfer 2014-07-01 22:23:51 -0500 Report

Stress usually triggers a upward spike in my bs. Also it takes a bit longer to settle down.. I do not take a fast acting insulin,so my body takes awhile to react.. As we all know, high bs can seem to come out of nowhere too..

Stuart1966 2014-07-01 16:22:03 -0500 Report

THe ADRENALINE system, gives our bodies stress hormones which RAISE our blood sugars.

The question becomes are we talking about that level of stress OR, still significant stress BUT does not trigger an adrenaline response, a liver dump of sugar into our blood streams?

They are two different but significant creatures!!!

One can cause a severe spike, because our body interprets the hormones as an our body is in serious physical danger situation…

Result, high numbers because our body over-reacted by incorrectly interpreting situations which don't require a life or death bodily response(s). (i.e. no I just had a fight with my wife, does not require adrenaline.

jayabee52 2014-07-01 16:31:28 -0500 Report

but one's body doesn't seem to know that. Whenever I fought with my wife in the past I seem to remember my heart pounding and my thoughts racing. Or maybe that was just me.

22eva 2014-06-30 19:34:37 -0500 Report

My levels are always affected when I am stressed. It is really hard to control at times

KBLegg 2014-06-30 18:40:03 -0500 Report

I know the stress, which is basically continuous for me, impacts my high BG numbers, but am at a loss as to what to do about it. Do plan to discuss with my family doc next visit.

Chris Clement
Chris Clement 2014-06-30 18:42:13 -0500 Report

I'm right there with you! Work stress sometimes keeps my BG up in the 200's for days straight. Other times, I'm an even 100 without changing much of anything except for not being overloaded with a to-do list. It's amazing how much of a difference stress can make.

lanykins 2014-06-29 18:31:53 -0500 Report

I have a question about all this I am also bipolar and I get stressed a lot from all my diabetes complications and living alone in a senior center, though I am only 65. However, my blood sugars drop LOW when I'm stressed. Most of you here seem to get high blood sugars when stressed. Why is this, what is the difference between us? I'm really curious about this.

Kats49 2014-06-28 16:24:58 -0500 Report

Most definitely, my sugars will rise when I am stressed. I take Tai chi classes twice a week to help me least for two hours let myself relax totally. Then for me swimming also helps

Ninja1 2014-06-28 11:45:02 -0500 Report

I totally agree about stress making your blood sugar levels rise because I have the same problem. Exercise is critical for diabetics. Not only to burn off the sugar in your body, but also to relieve stress by working off the stress thru exercising.
I also saw the I was trying to over-achieve everything in my life (which is basically putting too much pressure on myself). We can only do what we can in our lives. Trying to achieve more than that is asking too much of yourself.
If you have a problem with wanting to control everything and everybody in your life, you are fighting a losing battle. People like to be controlled (not even you), some things happen beyond your control. You can only control yourself.
It is all about the choices we make, and more importantly, how we react to them.
Make a diary of the event that stressed you out. Write your feelings down at that time. Then ask yourself why you chose to react that way. Then write down a positive way to react to the same situation in the future. Then write down steps to achieve those positive steps to completion. We are human, so we are going to slip up from time to time before we make it a habit of positive reactions. After awhile, you will look back and see all those successes you made and those successes will motivate you in other areas of your life.
I hope that it helps you.

debimzadi 2014-06-28 15:53:19 -0500 Report

Keeping a diary is indeed very important. It's also good to go back and read what you've written. It helps me keep things in perspective. I can see patterns. And remember that they passed and all was well. Kinda helps to let those things go.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-27 22:05:55 -0500 Report

Hi Jeanette,

This is an important discussion. Stress is so much a part of our lives, and we can get so caught up in stress that it becomes a way of life, and doing lots of damage to our health along the way.

I am really hypoglycemic, and I find that moments of stress can immediately affect my blood sugar level, and I end up with low blood sugar symptoms. I carry sugar free protein bars to help me when that happens, along with doing what I need to do to calm myself down.

Thanks for reminding us of how we need to be aware of stress and do something about it.


lanykins 2014-06-29 18:16:49 -0500 Report

I need to do the same thing. My blood sugars tend to really drop if I am under stress. I am keeping track of those things that cause me so much stress and am learning ways to handle them. Going to the doctor always stressed me and I wouldn't eat before I went. By the time I got there, I would be shaking from low blood sugar. That is an easy example but a good one to describe what I needed to do. Stress is a major thing in our lives and we cannot ignore it. There are things we must do to keep our stress levels down and thus keep our bodies healthy.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-05 21:16:55 -0500 Report

Hi lanykins, so you have to do the same thing! Very interesting. I have also had those moments when I realize I didn't eat and now what am I going to do. I had to ask my ENT for a snack once. Fortunately, he had cookies which at least got me through the appointment. I remind myself that part of my self care is making sure I do what I can to avoid low blood sugar. Thanks for your reply.

Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-06-27 13:06:47 -0500 Report

Thank you for this post, I hope what people shares will help others when they get stressed. Yes stress does effect my blood sugar so I have been finding ways to counter act the stress. #1. I'm retired. I listen to soothing music, go hiking, take deep breaths or what ever is available at that moment.

JoleneAL 2014-06-26 09:48:50 -0500 Report

I found a great product on VitaCost(.)com to help me deal with stress. After two panic attacks, my doctor put me on prescription medications. Quickly I started becoming addicted to them and needing higher doses. We caught it and I was weaned off them (thank God!). I use Source Naturals Theanine Serene with Relora when I start feeling over stressed. I am doing better recognizing stressers that cause the spiral down and these pills help a lot!

MewElla 2014-06-26 09:17:03 -0500 Report

Stress is definitely a trigger for me. I do not even have to check to know it is climbing.
For me, to get out and walk in the fresh air helps settle the cobwebs fast and after I get back always in a better place..

eristar 2014-06-26 05:38:23 -0500 Report

Oh, my, yes! (Of course, stress also makes me eat poorly, which doesn't help…) But I have definitely noticed rises in my levels when things are anxious or up in the air.

RebDee 2014-06-26 05:01:16 -0500 Report

Most of my stressors come from outside, such as the bathroom flood on June 5th that ruined the entire back of my home and disrupted my life ever since. While it caused a spike in BS, I find I am rather well controlled due to insuline pump. However, my BP spiked and stayed high as each little thing revolving around the flooded places, caused me grief.

RebDee 2014-06-26 05:02:48 -0500 Report

I just started a 6 week course called Mind and Body at Kaiser Permanente to get in touch with my feelings and to help not be so stressed by outside occurrences.

RebDee 2014-06-26 15:25:38 -0500 Report

Just got back from seeing my primary care physician. My blood pressure was off the chart!! She increased my Spirolactose which decreases the swelling in my legs and helps bring down my BP.

jigsaw 2014-06-25 20:36:10 -0500 Report

Stress definitely effects my bg. What I've done is my best to eliminate the number one stressful thing in my life. When my wife is not happy or stressed, it causes me to feel unbelievably stressed. Not to say that I don't do some routine things to alleviate everyday stress, because I certainly do. I take walks, ride a bike, and simply put, I exercise. It helps me to some extent, but it doesn't make my wife happy or less stressed! Not to worry, I would never eliminate my wife, (-; , I just keep learning every way I can to help her stay happy, by showing her how much I care!!! Wow. what a relief, it works!

Katiespace 2014-06-25 14:21:41 -0500 Report

Omg if stress causes high BG I'm in serious trouble. I am always stressed out about something, I let everything stress me. I am type 2 and bipolar I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not. I wish I was a mello jello person. But now my arthritis Dr says my liver levels are high and nobody knows why so that's got me stressed.

dixichic 2014-06-28 15:24:34 -0500 Report

Katie; some meds for bipolar can cause hyperglycemia like Seroquel and others. Check with your dr in case you are on any that cause this.

debimzadi 2014-06-25 21:15:33 -0500 Report

I too have type 2 and bipolar disorder. I work constantly on lowering my stress but I'm not very successful. It sounds like we are on the same path. I have arthritis and elevated liver enzymes. Last year they did an ultrasound but couldn't find anything. They think perhaps it's related to my arthritis meds or fatty liver. I know exercise helps with stress and goodness knows I need more of it.

I've not been on the site much over the past 4 months. Since I was well controlled without meds I let myself wander away from working and taking care of my BG. The result was that my A1C is up and they put me on metformin.

Michael_1960 2014-06-25 19:47:07 -0500 Report

Now you know what it is, maybe you can try some mind exercises, maybe work on putting together a puzzle, or work on a word puzzle or play a game of solitaire. Something that will relief your stress levels and that will make your b/s levels drop.

GabbyPA 2014-06-25 14:17:04 -0500 Report

Short spurts of stress are not such an issue but long "chronic" low stress is for me. I own my own business and deadlines or hard clients can keep me awake at nights. When I start getting like that, I need to escape and do something frivolous. Hubby and I went to a flea market and we found a beautiful stained glass wind chime. It was just what I needed to do. The chime is calming now, even after the day out.

Another thing is getting good sleep. We just invested in a sleep number bed (just delivered today) and I am hoping that will also be a stress reliever for me. I always do better after a good nights sleep.

One thing that also relaxes me is a foot massage. I went to the herbal shop I like and they showed me a stone "rod" that I use on my feet. It gets right in there and powers through my over sensitive neuropathy so I can actually massage my feet and it feels great.

Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-06-27 13:00:06 -0500 Report

I love old wind chimes. I have 3, I found at antique, and thrift stores. One outside my bedroom window, one my living room and one my study. It is calming to hear them.

RebDee 2014-06-29 13:46:56 -0500 Report

I too love the sound of wind chimes and have several. Trudie Ann, you are correct they are calming.

Pegsy 2014-06-26 18:06:17 -0500 Report

Gabby, I own my own business too and it is THE biggest source of stress in my life. Stress definitely has a huge negative impact on my glucose numbers. And if I don't get enough sleep it gets even worse. No amount or exercise or careful eating can control it at that point. I have had several major life crisis/changes over the past 3 years and I know they had a lot to do with my body crossing the line into diabetes. I am getting better sleep now and my stress is gradually reducing. I know it will take time for those stress hormones to calm down but I know, in time, that they will. Providing more stresses don't start piling up again. I am slowly learning to deal with the stress in my life and yes, exercise helps but it isn't enough by itself.

Anonymous 2014-06-28 15:33:18 -0500 Report

Pegsy: I had the same experience for the last 2 1/2 yrs but chronic stress for many years before. I got rid of the biggest problem (sent him to FL to mama), then my son attempted suicide and have been caring for him. But we're seeing the light at the end of tunnel. I used to think 'when this is over maybe things will get back to normal'. Now I think it's just life and there are always going to be problems. How we react is what we can do about it. Not there yet but working on it.

Pegsy 2014-06-29 14:30:52 -0500 Report

" it's just life and there are always going to be problems." I am trying to accept and work with this. Not easy for me.

Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-06-29 12:20:23 -0500 Report

Anonymous; Keep working, that's all anyone can do. Best wishes, and I pray that every thing works out with your son.

JoleneAL 2014-06-26 09:41:54 -0500 Report

Long bouts of stress are bad on everyone — cortisal (sp) dumps aren't good for the body period. But for me, if I get highly upset about something, I need to take some fast insulin FAST! I can pop from 100 to 300 in no time flat. For the most part, it doesn't happen often, but chronic stress kills …period.

Anonymous 2014-06-28 15:35:41 -0500 Report

I'm a living example of that. With my list of problems I know for sure it's been from chronic 40 yrs of stress. It definitely does kill. Without my good insurance I would already be dead.

RedShine 2014-06-25 09:57:20 -0500 Report

Oh yes Jeanette. Stress plays a huge roll in blood sugar levels (for me at least. I mean everyone's body is different). In order to correct it, I give my body the amount of insulin it needs ( if my insulin pump tells me to do so), and accompany it by doing something active. Like a brisk walk, running, push ups. The fact that I use the Dexicom also helps keep track of my blood sugar.

RebDee 2014-06-26 05:07:35 -0500 Report

What's a Dexicom?

RedShine 2014-06-26 12:04:12 -0500 Report

The Dexicom is a type of blood glucose monitor that measures the rise and fall of your blood sugar, through sensor that is attached to your body. However you still have to pick your fingers when using the Dexicom, that is always properly synchronized; the Dexicom measures the rise and fall through body liquid.

RebDee 2014-06-29 13:50:23 -0500 Report

Thanks RedShine, learned something new. Do you get the Dexicom from Medtronics like you get the insulin pump? Is it the same as the device that communicates with the pump's meter?

VRandy 2014-06-25 08:37:33 -0500 Report

Do you think it is progressive? It seems like every year the stressful months in life take a bigger toll on my BG. There are times in the year that I know when stress is going to impact my life (work schedules, etc.), but "knowing" doesn't seem to matter. Even when I'm not expecting a stressful time, I still see the impact of it on my BG. I can't always take time to relax…but I love that idea! Unfortunately, stress is part of life…it's part of mine, and I think most of us have to endure stress. I think the two things that have helped me most in the last 2 years is exercise and meditating on Scripture. It is amazing how calming it is to read of how God is in control…I don't need to worry!

Pegsy 2014-06-26 18:09:15 -0500 Report

On the advice of my counselor I have selected some passages related to stress and posted them on my refrigerator. I also carry them in my purse. I read them often and I am going to memorize them as well. I find that and prayer to be big stress relievers!

RebDee 2014-06-29 13:51:50 -0500 Report

Can you tell us what your passages are? Perhaps I could benefit from them also. I am always looking for quotes to help me.

RebDee 2014-06-29 13:54:06 -0500 Report

I have found that stress causes high blood pressure even more than high blood sugars. Last Friday, my BP was 190/75 about 50 points higher than my normal which is already high. Doctor prescribed taking an additional Spirolactone pill.

VRandy 2014-06-26 20:25:33 -0500 Report

Sounds like you have a wise counselor! That's a good word about praying. LOVE THAT! These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing them!

JaxCreations 2014-06-25 06:12:00 -0500 Report

Argh! Stress - the bane of our lives! I have suffered with the blood glucose highs caused by stress so many times of late. I kept asking my doctor if the stress was keeping my sugars high, but he said no. Yet every time I was stressed, my sugar would hit the roof!
I now try my best to avoid stressful situations, but when I do get into them, I try my utmost to think of something else to alleviate it. I also take myself out of the situation where I can. I go and read a book, put some music on and try to relax - not always easy when your blood is boiling but it does help.

Anonymous 2014-06-28 15:38:40 -0500 Report

You're dr is wrong! Mine said it was definitely stress.

JaxCreations 2014-06-29 09:33:04 -0500 Report

Oh I know he is wrong, like talking to a lay person tbh - he off on Sabbatical for a year - in Africa, got a locum diabetes doc whom appears just as ill-informed! At this rate, might have to change surgeries all together

haoleboy 2014-06-24 23:22:31 -0500 Report

As a stroke survivor my number #1 health priority is to not have another stroke. Diabetes is certainly important but my doctors were pretty clear that if I were to have another stroke I wouldn't be as "lucky" as I was on the first one.
In addition to stopping smoking, eating healthy and getting more exercise … reducing stress is very important for me.
I find that daily meditation (often 3-4 times a day), studying Buddhist teachings, spending time with my grand sons, spending quiet time (alone) outdoors and listening to music all help.
Reducing my blood glucose levels is an added bonus.


Michael_1960 2014-06-24 21:26:18 -0500 Report

Me, I work so much that I don't have time for myself, and to eat properly, therefore, I am so stressed that it does affect my b/s levels.

JaxCreations 2014-06-29 09:35:05 -0500 Report

That's how my life used to be, until I had a mental breakdown 5 years ago. Life in the slow lane is soooo much better for every part of my life X

elwojcik65 2014-06-25 20:28:52 -0500 Report

Sounds like my life!! It's so hard to find time for me and take care of myself between working 2 jobs and caring for everyone/thing else.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2014-06-24 21:10:12 -0500 Report

Hi Jeanette; This subject hits very close to home for me anyhow that is. For the stress and emotional problems life had offered me, I ended up on medication for the problems I was having. But until the medication went into effect on me I was a basicaly a basket case. The stress had taken it's toll on me. My BG was all over the map. The highest it got was 538, The lowest was 198,,,I felt awful all the time, My Doctor was
ry upset about the up and down numbers of my BG, Then he learned of the Internal Med Doctor had finally instilled. Then we were all happy again. So to make a long story short you need to keep your Internal Meds Dr. and your Endocrynologist both informed of what's going on. All things work better that way,

kimfing 2014-06-24 20:44:11 -0500 Report

Most definite stress raises my bs. Just recently in fact when trying to get my pump ordered. A nurse got me stressed and sure enuf my bs was much higher than it should have been. What i did was vented to a friend and then distracted myself by playing solitaire

RebDee 2014-06-29 17:49:56 -0500 Report

Does solitaire work? I play on my computer all the time but it doesn't seem to keep my BS and BG down.

kimfing 2014-06-29 18:11:50 -0500 Report

Sometimes as it gets me to think of something else other than the stressful moment at the time. It lets my mind go blank. :-) :-)

teacherspet 2014-06-24 14:41:29 -0500 Report

There are many times when I get high numbers that I think it is mostly stress related or that those numbers cause me more stress and then the next set of numbers will go up. I am very much a stressed person, it doesn't take much for me to go beyond my limits of endurance that way,…so I do have to watch how I deal with things. Right now I have other medical problems going on a severe case of degenerative discs in my neck which very easily could cause the need for surgery; I have been nursing two bum knees along for 15 years, and it's getting to the point that knee replacements or pain will be in y future. Both of these matters, along with some financial dealings are driving me NUTS! And that will cause my numbers to be up at least 30 points. I make it a point to KNOW EVERYTHING about my situations as I can, either by interviewing docs incessantly for information, or by using resources given to me, books, magazines, articles, others. The more I know, the more I can relax with what I know. BUT while I am doing that, I have found that two crafts that I love tend to relax me, knitting and paper crafting…I get lost in the activity, Also I am a swimmer and should have been born a fish, because being in the water, as silly as this sounds the stress washes out and makes the pain release, and my mind can wander. And of course, for me prayer and meditation, sometimes screaming and yelling help a great deal, also,

RebDee 2014-06-29 13:59:09 -0500 Report

Did anyone ever hear of Pink Plexus? I went to a party yesterday where they explained it. Most of the women there said it lowered their weight, lowered their stress level, got them off several of their meds. I decided to try it for a week, if it works, I will buy a month's supply in the hopes that I can lose enough weight to be ready for bariatric sleeve surgery on August 20th. Several of the women also talked about their cancers and how it helped them to feel better, their skin looked better, their energy was up. Hope it works. I will tell you yes or no after next Sunday.