Susan B. Sloane, BS, RPh, CDE, has been a registered pharmacist for more than 20 years and a Certified Diabetes Educator for more than 15 years. Her two sons were diagnosed with diabetes, and since then, she has been dedicated to promoting wellness and optimal outcomes as a patient advocate, information expert, educator, and corporate partner.
Stress-related changes in hormones such as cortisol can cause blood sugars to rise in people with diabetes. There is also growing evidence that “chronic stress” can lead to type 2 diabetes, but scientists are not exactly sure of the mechanism by which that may occur.
If you have diabetes, you probably know that if you get ill, your blood sugars will most likely go up. In fact, the best predictor of my children coming down with an illness is a sudden, unexplained rise in blood sugars without any other obvious cause.
Dealing with a chronic illness can be very stressful. High blood sugars can lead to even more stress and feed a vicious cycle in a person with diabetes. Practicing ways to reduce your level of stress will help starve this beast.
One way to keep stress at bay that is gathering a lot of attention is called mindfulness training. This is the process whereby you are completely present in your body. Mindfulness training teaches us to know how to interpret signals from our nervous system and react to them with less tension. To learn more about this process, you can visit here.
I believe one of the most important things to know about living with diabetes is that you should never stop learning. The more you understand diabetes and the medications that you take to control it, the more likely it is that you can feel confident and comfortable living with diabetes, which is very much a “take home” disease. Don’t fight it or continually resent it—just know that it is a part of you now and that it can be controlled.
In many ways, diabetes has forced our family to get healthy. We had in the past practiced very unhealthy eating habits. Regular cola and snack food prevailed. Now we exercise regularly, eat well, and feel so much better. That is my silver lining.
Yoga and meditation can also be great stress reducers.
Smiling more—yes, just smiling—will put you in a better frame of mind.
Friendships and relationships are very important to a feeling of well-being. Try not to isolate yourself in times of stress and find some humor in all you do. Learn from the children who laugh and play, living in the moment.
These are just a few ways to live a less stressful and more fulfilling life.
Lastly, probably one of the best things you can do is help out someone else. A random act of kindness can bring about great joy. Let’s all try to “pay it forward."