It is hard to escape stress in everyday life.  Stress can come from many different sources: work, marriage, school, kids, relationships, money, or health. Diabetes can bring its own type of stress. At the same time, stress from other areas of life can impact diabetes by raising blood sugars.

When our body encounters stress, it prepares for the fight-or-flight response. During this response to stress our body releases hormones to help the body provide stored fat and sugar to the cells.  People who have diabetes do not produce enough insulin to process this extra sugar, so it can build up and cause rises in blood sugars. Therefore, finding ways to help reduce stress can help improve blood sugar control.  A research study at Duke University, found that stress management training improved long-term glycemic control in type 2 diabetes, it was associated with significant reduction in A1C (0.5%). 

It can be important to look at our daily lives and see where our stress is coming from and identify some ways to reduce that stress. Take some time and do a little inventory of stress reduction by answering the questions below:

  • When was the last time you took time for yourself and really rested?
  • Are there worries or concerns that are constantly on your mind?
  • What are things you worry about?
  • What do you enjoy doing that brings joy into your life?
  • How can you fit rest or stress reduction into your life?

Tips for Reducing Stress

  • Exercise
    • Take a 10-minute walk on your lunch break at work.
    • Join a recreational sports team at your local gym.
    • Take a walk after dinner.
    • Wake up 10 minutes early to do some stretches.
    • Look into joining a dance class.
  • Take time each week to enjoy a hobby:
    • Gardening, craft, reading, etc.
  • Volunteer for a charity
  • Breathing exercises
    • Lie or sit down and take deep breathes and concentrate on for 5-10 minutes and begin to relax each muscle group
  • Becoming more aware of bad thoughts and stress
    • Journal or reflect about areas of stress and replace them with things you are thankful for or that makes you happy. 

Be honest with yourself and find something you enjoy doing do help reduce the various stressors in your life. If you feel that you are unsure of how to cope with your stress, talk with your health care provider about how to reduce stress in your life. 

Stay tuned for more on reducing stress and anxiety to improve blood sugar levels from my fellow certified diabetes educator, Tammy Shifflett.

By Michelle Mendoza RD, CDE
Cecelia Health Certified Diabetes Educator


Stress Management Improves Long-Term Glycemic Control in Type 2 DiabetesDiabetes Care Jan 2002, 25 (1) 30-34; DOI: 10.2337/diacare.25.1.30