Everyone experiences anxiety. In fact, studies show Americans are more stressed out than ever.
But can stress and anxiety actually raise the level of your blood sugar? And what does this mean for those who have diabetes?
Is There a Connection Between Stress and Blood Sugar Levels?
Yes, there is. It’s caused by both psychological and physical factors.
We’ll explore these along with some useful tips on how to cope with anxiety and stress.
What Happens in Your Body When You Get Stressed
Stress hormones have a big role to play.
When you’re experiencing physical or emotional stress, hormones are released that increase your blood sugar. Cortisol and adrenaline are other primary hormones involved.
This is a perfectly natural response. For example, if you’re being chased by a barking dog or you’re in a dangerous situation, you need these hormones to prepare your body for a “fight or flight” situation.
But when you’re stressed, your body releases these hormones, even if there isn’t a major physical threat involved.
The result? Higher blood pressure, increased heart rate and a rise in blood sugar.
The problem becomes more complicated.
If you’re consistently under stress, your hormones and sugar will continue to surge.
Over time, this can put you at risk for:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep problems
- Chronic anxiety
This is one reason why it’s so important to treat your stress and anxiety.
Taking Care of Yourself When Stressed
When we’re stressed, we typically don’t take good care of ourselves.
There’s a reason they call it “comfort food.” For most people, chocolate or fast food seems to be the first thing they reach for when we’re stressed.
Stress also makes it tempting to put off your regular exercise routine in favor of the couch and a Netflix binge.
These can all become deciding factors in a spike in blood sugar.
Need a solution? Get moving when you’re stressed. Don’t feel like you have to complete an extensive cardio routine. Often something as simple as a walk around the block can make a difference in your mood.
Dealing With Diabetes Can Cause Anxiety
Let’s face it: Controlling diabetes is hard work. That in itself is enough to cause worry and stress. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, those with diabetes are 20 percent more likely to experience anxiety than those without the disease.
We understand this, and we’re dedicated to helping alleviate your worry by working together as a team to address any distressing issues.
How to Reduce Anxiety
First, let’s be clear: If you’re experiencing anxiety, we want to know about it. We care about much more than your physical health. We know that mental health is an important part of your overall well-being.
We care about our patients, and we are always in your corner, ready to help you.
Following are some useful tips for reducing anxiety:
- Any type of physical activity, even if it’s just a quick walk around the block during your lunch break.
- Meditation or yoga
- Speaking to a supportive friend, coworker or clergy.
- Being gentle with yourself—give yourself a break and don’t be so hard on yourself.
- Doing something fun, like engaging in a hobby or reading.
- Eating healthy foods.
- Reducing or eliminating your alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Getting enough sleep
If your anxiety continues for more than two weeks or if you’re finding it difficult to complete everyday activities, you should consider talking to a counselor or psychologist who can provide help and direction. We can provide a referral if needed.
Keep a Close Eye On Your Blood Sugar Levels
It’s always important to keep tabs on your stress and blood sugar. That’s why we recommend a fasting blood sugar test at every yearly physical.
If your blood sugar starts to creep upwards, we can be proactive and start measures to help you.
This is particularly important if you have diabetes or prediabetes. In fact, if you have these conditions, we may suggest that you have blood sugar screenings more often. We can guide you through when you should check your blood sugar, and our dietitian can help you select healthy meals.
Are Some People More Prone to Anxiety Than Others?
That’s a difficult question, and there’s no one correct answer.
Generally, both physical and psychological factors cause everyone to react to stress differently.
For example, genetics can play a role. Some genes that control the stress response may go into “overdrive” while for other people, they are under reactive.
Those who experience traumatic life events or are survivors of abuse may be more vulnerable to stress.
Still others may have a combination of factors.
Keeping Your Blood Sugar Under Control During Anxiety: Raleigh Medical Group Can Help
This is a team effort.
Don’t feel you have to go it alone.
For decades we’ve been the provider of choice in the Raleigh, Cary and Triangle areas. Our experienced, compassionate physicians and health care team are ready to guide you toward the healthiest life possible.
Scheduling an appointment is easy—and now we even offer convenient telehealth appointments.
Don’t let stress ruin your health. Contact us today.