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Printer Friendly Version

How Stress Affects People With Diabetes

And What Can Be Done About It

Source: Jet Magazine   

Stress occurs when something causes your body to behave as if it were under attack. Sources of stress can be physical, like injury or illness. Or they can be mental, like problems in your marriage, job, health or finances.

With people with diabetes, stress can alter blood glucose levels, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) notes. It does this in two ways. First, people under stress may not take good care of themselves. They may drink more alcohol or exercise less. They may forget, or not have time, to check their blood sugar level or plan good, healthy meals. Second, stress hormones may also alter blood glucose levels directly.

Mental stress and physical stress such as illness or injury often raise blood glucose levels, the ADA notes. Stress blocks the body from releasing insulin in people with type 2 diabetes, often called adult-onset diabetes or non-insulin dependent diabetes.

Listed below are several ADA-recommended ways to help people with diabetes relax and cope with mental stress:

1. Replace bad thoughts with good ones. Each time you notice a bad thought, think of something that makes you happy or proud. Or memorize a prayer, poem or quote and use it to replace a bad thought.

2. Exercise. Another way to relax your body is by moving it through a wide range of motion, the ADA says. Three ways to loosen up through movement are circling, stretching and shaking parts of your body. To make this exercise fun, move with music.

3. Breathing exercises. Sit or lie down and uncross your legs and arms. Take a deep breath. Then put out as much air as you can. Breathe in and out again, this time relaxing your muscles on purpose while breathing out. Keep breathing and relaxing for 5 to 20 minutes at a time. Do the breathing exercise at least once a day.

4. Progressive relaxation therapy. In this technique, which you can learn in a clinic or from an audio tape, you tense muscles then relax them.

August 18, 2003

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