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We live in a fast-paced world, and some days feel downright overwhelming. Stress is a normal biological process designed to keep us alive when we are in danger. Think big tiger is chasing after you. In cases like this, the body takes action to divert energy from less essential functions like digestion to an increase in heart rate and breathing. This process is critical when survival is at stake but happens when stress fills most of our day? Can stress make diabetes worse? What can we do to fight it?
Too Much Stress
When our bodies are under constant stress, it can’t function the way it is supposed to. For example, if stress is causing digestion to stop or slow, then you are not digesting food properly. That can cause malnutrition, obesity, and a whole slew of metabolic disorders. If stress causes an increase in breathing and heart rate for a sustained amount of time, it might cause heart problems. No one’s heart should be working that hard while you are sitting a desk or in traffic. Too much stress has been shown to cause:
Stress and Diabetes
Having too much stress can cause some people to develop diabetes. More and more people are developing type 2 diabetes even though they are presumably healthy. These people are usually baffled as to why they are sick when they have no family history, exercise regularly, and watch their weight. What is the cause? It is likely due to having a high stress lifestyle, busy all day with work and family.
People with diabetes are usually told to take their medication and come back every 3-6 months. Most diabetics are not counseled on ways to improve their condition. The few that do receive counseling aren’t told about the dangers of stress. If your body becomes stuck in a stress response how can it properly metabolize food and medication? You might find some days your sugar is way too high for no reason and the next you are fighting to keep your sugar from being too low.
Sleep is another thing that can make or break your diabetes treatment. If you are not getting enough sleep, your body can’t repair itself. Rest and repair are essential for people with diabetes. Too much stress has a direct correlation with reduced sleep. Diabetics are often prescribed sleep medications for this very reason. Unfortunately, sleep medication does nothing to fix the actual problem. Your diabetes will continue to progress until you start reducing stress in your life.
Now that we know how stress affects our health it’s time to figure out how to fix it. There are many ways to reduce stress and some ways you can stop the stress response as soon as you feel it. Here are some of the easiest ways to reduce stress in your life:
Workout Everyday – Every time you exercise your brain releases “feel good” hormones. Over time your body and mind start to feel good just thinking about working out. The best time of day to exercise is in the morning because the stress-reducing benefits can last up to 12 hours. That means you will be more relaxed all day. A daily workout will also help you sleep through the night soundly without medication.
Find Support – If you are going through a life-changing situation or the loss of a loved one, you probably need to talk about your feelings. Sometimes finding someone, you can confide in will drop your stress immediately. Friends, family, and mental health professionals can help you work through your problems and find acceptance for the things you can’t change.
Finding Your Center – When you start to feel overwhelmed it might be a good time to stop what you are doing and center yourself. Bring all your thoughts and senses back to the present moment. Sit quietly and think about what your heart is doing. How is your breathing? What are some ideas going on in your mind? Can you recognize what is causing the stress? Doing this can help you change your thinking and clear your mind before your body becomes exhausted.
Meditation – There are so many benefits to mediation and these days you can download apps that help you get started. Some apps will alert you to take a break and others will teach you breathing techniques. People who meditate regularly have fewer health problems, more energy, and decreased stress.
What do you guys think? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments if you have any helpful advice or additional questions.
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