The Stress Monster.
Bernard’s comment to my last post made me think about how much stress impacts our life with diabetes. Stress is one of those mysterious variables that doesn’t have a precise scientific calculation to how it’s going to affect blood sugar, like food and insulin do. But stress does affect our blood sugar in a variety of ways. Stress can increase certain hormones that makes our body less receptive to insulin. Stress can also lead us to do certain activities that have an impact, like overeating.
I haven’t seen a direct correlation between stress and my blood sugars as far as my hormones go, though when I was younger my mother was convinced my blood sugar went high right before I was about to fly. Flying has never been a stressful event for me, but stress is closely related to any kind of excitement or adrenaline spike which is why my blood sugars tend to go up after I exercise. My mother thought that my excitement for an impending flight, and perhaps the stress of packing although I didn’t have that much to do with it, affected my blood sugars negatively.
However, stress has definitely caused me to overeat in certain situations. In the middle of a chaotic workday, it’s not uncommon for me to escape the office for a few minutes to go down to Starbucks and pick up a frappuccino or snack. I always get the Mocha Light frappuccinos, which have half the carbs, but still, those midafternoon snacks can do a number on my numbers.
Bernard asked me for suggestions on how to handle stress and also boredom, both of which cause him to overeat, thus dragging up his blood sugars. I’m not a therapist, I told him, but when I was going through my depression in college I found therapy to be valuable. Other options are yoga or meditation.
Do you find that stress or other situations affect your blood sugars in some way and if so, what do you do about it? Perhaps our collective experience can help each other. Stressful situations are unlikely to stop in the near future, so it’s important that we’re able to find ways to fight off the Stress Monster.