According to the University of Regina, stress “is an individual’s response to change in circumstance or to a threatening situation.” Stress itself is not entirely bad, as it acts as an alarm mechanism from our body that could be used in a positive way. For example, athletes under certain levels of stress have broken records when competing in the Olympics. The problem lies in the way it is managed. As well the negative effects it can have on both the mental and the physical health of a person. For people with diabetes, some of these consequences can include:
- Fluctuating glucose levels in the blood
- Interference with everyday self-care activities
- Changes to your immune functions
- Ability to self-manage diabetes
Having diabetes itself can be a cause of stress. Luckily, just like diabetes, stress can be managed as well. Read on to learn about some methods that can help decrease stress:
- Take it one step at a time
Having diabetes is a life journey full of highs and lows. Thinking excessively about the past or the future can distract you from what is happening in the present. It is very difficult to control every situation but having a plan can help reduce the shock of being unprepared. Have in mind that it is okay if the plan must be modified, the important thing is to be open-minded and react calmly. On days with a heavy workload, a helpful technique is to create a list with all the tasks you need to get done and then categorize them according to importance and difficulty. Begin with the easiest and then the most urgent one, and end with the longest and least important one.
2. Be conscious about your feelings and emotions
Experiencing anger, desperation, uncertainty, and defeat is normal. It is helpful to identify what is the cause of your negative feelings in order to have a clear path on how to solve it or manage it. Be conscious of negative self-talk and negative attitudes. When spotting these situations allow yourself to say STOP, and repeat this mantra to yourself even if these thoughts come back. Encourage yourself with positive phrases. These phrases could be from movies, book authors, or even ones created by you. Even better, write these phrases in a book or online doc, so that you can always go back to them when you need them. Another helpful technique is to practice deep breathing. Simply inhale air to your maximum lungs’ capacity, hold your breath for three seconds, and then exhale slowly releasing all the air. Repeat this exercise at least three times or until you feel calmer.
3. Have someone to talk to
Having people around you to support you and hear about difficulties is proven to help release stress levels. Friends and family members have a huge impact to help manage diabetes as they will encourage you to have proper management. Some of the benefits of having peer support is that you can:
- Learn from others
- Overcome fears
- Decrease feelings of isolation
- Share opportunities
- Find emotional support and comfort
At the The Diabetes App, people with diabetes can connect with one another and have more “diabuddies,” friends that also have diabetes. There are chat forums for both Type 1 and Type 2 with unique content tailored for each type. Here you can find tips from other people with diabetes on how to manage diabetes. Additionally, it is highly informative as they also have content which includes exercise videos, recipes, livestreams, and podcasts. Connecting with other people with diabetes can be empowering as people on the app know exactly what you are going through.
4. Get informed and educated
One of the major features of the DMP app is the possibility to connect with professionals. Being able to connect with a wide medical team is important as they can properly guide you according to your specific conditions, especially in distressing situations. For instance, you can contact a dietitian to customize a diet plan that balances the intake of carbohydrates. DMP prides itself on having credible and trustworthy sources, as misinformation could lead to negative impacts on your health.
In truth, having diabetes can sometimes feel like a burden. On some days, it can be harder than others. Stress is a daily factor that can negatively affect your overall health. However, by implementing some of these techniques, it can help you stay calm during stressful situations. Be kind to yourself. In doing so, it will create a positive environment and mindset that in the end could help you manage your sugar levels and live a healthy lifestyle.