How I cope with diabetes and stress

Diabetes and stress is often a "chicken and egg" question. Which came first? Simply having diabetes can cause stress, but on the other hand, stress makes my blood sugar levels go up. Dealing with this disease and handling the stress that comes along with it can turn into an ugly cycle.

It's especially true when there are several life changes happening. Unfortunately, when I am overwhelmed by change, the first thing that falls to the wayside is my diabetes control. I might forget to take that morning insulin, then mentally kick myself when I see a blood sugar reading of 300 at lunchtime. Perhaps I'm not sure what that number is, because I remembered the insulin but forgot my meter.

At that point, it doesn't matter which came first, the stress or the diabetes. They both need to get back under control -- fast.

Three tips for handling diabetes and stress

Over the years I have found a few things that work when I'm completely stressed out over diabetes -- or when stress is making my diabetes go haywire.

  1. It's okay to cry. We have to be strong to deal with diabetes. That strength sometimes makes us act like superheroes, even when we are falling apart. But what's wrong with falling apart? Everybody needs the release once in a while. So if you feel like crying, lock yourself away and sob until you can't breathe. You really will feel better -- and stronger -- when you're done.
  2. Get organized. When stress comes calling, I can be forgetful. I combat that by getting all my ducks in a row, so to speak. I stick Post-it notes everywhere: "Test blood sugar!" and "Count carbs!" are two popular ones. I take pride in a neat row of blood sugar readings in the log book. The more in-control I feel, the less stressed I am.
  3. Talk to someone. The diabetes online community is an excellent place to ask questions, get information and simply vent. When you have had enough and want to rant about it, the DOC is always there, ready to listen and offer encouragement. Stress can make be a very isolating thing; break away from that bubble by telling someone else how you feel.

Stress and diabetes go hand-in-hand, but they can both be controlled. So take a deep breath, have a good cry, get yourself together and get right back on track.

About Shannon Lee

Shannon Lee has lived with diabetes for seventeen years. When she's not playing ninja with lancets or counting carbs, she can be found traveling across the country with laptop in hand, writing about anything that strikes her fancy.

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Bob Johnson says:

10 July 2012 at 5:17 pm

Great article!

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