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Tame the Stress

When you have diabetes, stress can affect more than your mood—it can take your blood glucose for a ride if you’re not careful. Here’s how to stay on track.

What do your days look like when you’re facing a stressful event or situation? Schedules get juggled. We don’t get enough sleep. We forget to exercise. Maybe we drink or eat a bit more than usual. And all of these factors can affect blood glucose.

Even if you’re able to keep your lifestyle chugging along smoothly, stress can still disrupt your body’s engine in ways you might not realize. In fact, research shows that stress causes blood-glucose levels to jump significantly. But the good news is that although you might not be able to control the sources of stress in your life, you can control how they affect your mind, body, and blood glucose.

Walk Away from Stress

Aerobic exercise of any kind has the power to calm. Even a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk can help. Try paying attention to your footsteps, counting “one, two, one, two” and visualizing each number in your mind as you go.

Soothe with Sound

Research shows that listening to music reduces feelings of anxiety.

Breathe Easy

When stressed, most of us take quick, shallow gasps of air. But slow, rhythmic belly breathing is what you want. Blow out all the breath in your lungs (like a big sigh). Then focus on a point about two inches below your navel, in the center of your body. Inhale, imagining taking air all the way to that center and feeling your entire belly expand. Then breathe out slowly from that same place. Repeat 10 times.

Relax from Head to Toe

Starting at top or bottom, tense one set of muscles in your body at a time, hold for a few seconds, then let them relax. Work your way through all major body parts—feet, legs, chest and arms, head and neck—and then enjoy the sense of release it provides.

Find the Good

Stuck in traffic? Appreciate the chance to sit and listen to tunes. Each time you have a stressful thought, think of something that makes you happy.

Seek a Friendly Ear

Call a friend and tell her that you just need two minutes to unload. A diabetes support group can also help you deal with stress. To locate one, call your local hospital or the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). 

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