Life is stressful enough as it is. Throw in managing a 24/7 disease like diabetes, and you have a recipe for sleepless nights, frustration, and even depression. You already know that when you feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, your blood glucose can rise, causing your diabetes to become harder to manage. What you may not know is how to react when faced with a stressful event. Whether you’re struggling to get your blood sugars on target or you’re simply fed up with managing the condition, these five stress-busters can help you relax, put things in perspective, and get back on the right track.
1. Return to the source. One of the best ways to beat anxiety once and for all is to find out what’s bugging you. Chances are good it’s something that’s within your control. For example, if you’re worried about keeping your blood sugars in check, you can work with your doctor or a certified diabetes educator to create a health care plan that works just for you. If your morning commute has you gripping the steering wheel, heart racing, try leaving for work a few minutes early to beat the traffic jam.
2. Take a walk. Studies have shown an hour-long walk is one of the best exercises you can do to help keep your blood sugar under control. This low-impact activity can also help you fight stress. According to the Calm Clinic, walking provides a healthy distraction from your stressors. It also changes the way you breathe, which can prevent the nasty side effects of anxiety, such as chest pains, a racing heart, and panic attacks. Bonus points if you take it outdoors. Researchers at Baker Heart Research Institute in Melbourne found that sunlight can boost the brain’s levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls your mood.
3. Get organized. It’s easy to feel tense when you come home to a messy house, and managing your diabetes is a lot harder when your sugar log is lost in a sea of papers on your desk. It doesn’t take long to de-clutter diabetes supplies–and your mind. You can begin by designating a specific space for your supplies. A binder for your labs and insurance information and a drawer for your pills, lancets, and other testing supplies. If technology is your thing, there are several websites and apps that can help you straighten things up. My Diabetes Home is an online platform and mobile app that offers an online blood sugar log, medications list, and a place to store your latest lab results and health care numbers.
4. Talk it out. Living with diabetes comes with a lot triumphs, but there are also plenty of struggles and fears. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. The next time you’re feeling down, try talking out your concerns with a friend, family member, or even your doctor. The American Diabetes Association offers support groups in all 50 states where you can connect with others in your community. Click here to find meetings in your area.
5. Get some sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. Too much stress can keep you tossing and turning until early in the morning, while too little sleep can make your worries seem much bigger than they really are. According to WebMD, sleep deprivation is one of the leading causes of stress among Americans. The best way to beat it? Catch some more zzzs. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get at least eight hours of sleep each night. To relax and unwind after a long day, try one of these six techniques.
Photo courtesy of Life Mental Health on Flickr