Research proves that stressful experiences aggravate diabetes. In fact, stressors such as workplace stress and family losses are often linked to triggering the onset of diabetes. One of the major impacts of your stress hormones – epinephrine and cortisol is an elevation in the blood sugar levels.
Studies also suggest that non- diabetic individuals have compensatory measures to keep stress under control. This is lacking in diabetic individuals.
The best way therefore to control your blood sugar levels is through impactful stress management and effective coping mechanisms.
But the greater you think about eliminating stress, the closer it comes towards you, isn’t it?
Then, what do we mean by effective coping mechanism? Should we not try to eradicate stress from our lives?
Alright, let’s face it! You can never achieve a stress-free life, no matter how hard you may want to try. All you can do is to convert the perceived ‘bad stress’ into your friend or ‘good stress’. Therefore, the best logical action would be to acknowledge the presence of stress in your life, make stress your friend and learn to cope with your existing stress – in order to convert it into good stress that enables you to perform better and live healthier. All it calls for you to do is to take charge of your thoughts, emotions, actions, life!
Here are some simple strategies that will empower you to deal with stress without converting it into your enemy:
Make tiny but impactful changes in your physical environment:
A badly organized working or living space can lead to major negative stress. On the contrary, a pleasantly organized environment enables you to reduce stress and enhances your productivity levels. Here are some points that can help you create a pleasant non-stressful physical space:
Bad lighting can lead to an elevated fatigue level in addition to causing eye strain. Fluorescent lighting is also exhausting at times. Understanding that the quality of light is an important factor in eradicating stress from your physical environment can enable you to manage it better. Natural light leads to the release of happy chemicals in the body – this leads to better emotional health. Artificial light does not have the same impact as sunlight. As a coping strategy, you can choose to work near a window or maybe use full spectrum bulbs in order to improve the quality of light and as a consequence, your working environment.
Cleanliness, Tidiness, Decoration:
A cluttered environment generally leads to unnecessary stress. Clutter in your environment leads to clutter in your mind which necessarily means more stress. A clean, organized workplace helps in maintaining a safe distance from your number one enemy – stress!
A high level of noise not only hampers your ability to concentrate; it also leads to tension, irritability and headaches. You may want to request your co-workers to tone down their volume or even get into a noise proof conference room for working.
Overload of Technology:
Technology was meant to make your life simpler, and it has suddenly become one of the major factors contributing to your stress, correct? You are bombarded with interruptions from Facebook, Internet, e-mail and IMs. How about consciously turning off all these distractions and focusing on the task at hand? You may want to set up specific time during the day to check your Facebook or email. An hour in the morning and then an hour in the evening can work just fine.
Your space to relax:
Almost everybody requires a space to unwind, even if this is just for a few minutes. Choose a place where you can just close your eyes and meditate. You may want to go out for a nature walk or pursue your favourite hobby. In fact, lunch outside your office may also work well sometimes.
Making changes in your mental environment:
In order to convert manage stress better, it is important to take a closer look at your mental environment and figure out what changes you can make so that this good stress empowers you to lead a life full of happiness and good health. The first secret to doing this is by identifying your sources of stress and avoiding them. Do you understand what stresses you out? And do you have a mitigation strategy in place? One of the major causes of stress in your life could be your inability to say ‘no’ and your will to please everyone. It is extremely important to create boundaries for yourself and then learn to stick to them. Curb the time with individuals who you feel stress you out.
Does watching that tennis match make you anxious? You won’t miss it if you don’t watch it. Just try skipping it once to notice the difference it makes to your life! Hate grocery shopping because of the traffic you need to encounter? Try ordering groceries online next time.
Let us now look at the second secret to managing your mental environment. Try and modify the situation. You know what causes you stress, correct?
All you need to do now is to figure out how to change this situation so that it does not impact you any further. This may involve changes in the way you communicate and operate every day. You may even want to express your feelings and reach out for support. On the other hand, you must also be available for other people experiencing stress. Taking stock of your time in order to evaluate what works well for you is the best stress management strategy!
What if you cannot modify the situation? Well, think about positively adapting to the situation in that case.
Here is an example: Hate traffic jams? Use this as an opportunity to listen to your favorite radio station or enjoy some alone time. In case you witness a stressful event, think about how this event can impact your life positively. In fact, take some time to reflect if this event will really be important in the long run. Concentrate on things that bring you joy and contentment. Count your unseen blessings. Always see good things about yourself. Eliminate negative words such as ‘should’, ‘never’, ‘must’ etc. from your dictionary. These will only shift your focus to things that you should or should not have done. Focus on what you have done that is making such a profound impact on you and the people around you. Focus on the present; focus on NOW!
Finally, keep some time for yourself. Nurture yourself. Spend time with nature, get a relaxing massage, take a long bubble bath, talk to a friend, write in your journal or do whatever feels good to you! Just set aside some time for relaxation and fun.
Physical Therapy to Beat Stress
Well, we are not going to go into detail here – because we understand the disease fighting, anti-diabetic and overall health benefits of exercise. Exercise can also enhance your mental fitness levels and diminish overall stress. Research proves that physical therapy reduces fatigue, elevates concentration, improves your overall cognitive ability and diminishes stress.
Nutrition and Stress
Choosing to make stress your friend involves making certain lifestyle and diet changes. While there are foods that help in managing stress, there are others that contribute to negative stress. Choosing the right kind of foods can play a big role in your stress management strategy. You should avoid foods with high glycemic index, alcohol and unrefined sugars. Remember, we spoke about all these foods to be avoided when we discussed the diabetic dietary principles?
Foods containing abundant quantities of zinc, vitamin B12, magnesium and antioxidants are effective in stress management. Herbal supplements such as passion flower and kava also provide substantial relaxation. We shall talk about top seven herbs to manage your diabetes in my bonus book. These herbs can also help you manage stress better.