STRESS AND PREDIABETES
Not many people realize the connection between stress and high blood sugar. It’s not obvious at first, but when you think about the effect stress has on our bodies it will make perfect sense to you.
When we’re under stress, whether it’s physical, mental or emotion, our bodies are doing what nature intended them to do – they’re sensing danger and getting amped up for a flight or fight response. One of the ways the body does this is by releasing its stores of glucose into the bloodstream. The body does this so that sufficient energy is at the ready for whatever it fears is about to go down.
Over time, constant or recurring stress that encourages those elevated blood sugars can cause you body’s cells to get less efficient at using all that excess energy.
This leads to what we call insulin resistance and it’s the first step toward prediabetes.
Stress And Poor Choices
Stress also causes us to make choices that might not be the best for us. I think we’re all probably familiar with this scenario.
In our desire to alleviate the stress and feel better as soon as possible, we often crave those sugar-rich, feel-good “comfort foods” that release serotonin and dopamine in our brains. This feels like it makes things all better, but it doesn’t do us any good on the blood sugar front!
So what can you do to reduce your stress and anxiety when you have prediabetes? Read on…
Walk It Off
One of the quickest ways to bring your stress levels down is to get out and walk it off.
This is a win-win because not only does physical activity bring your stress levels down, but the walking promotes the release of mood-boosting hormones and helps burn off some of that excess energy – which has the added bonus of preventing it from being stored as fat!
Enjoy The Silence
Another option is meditation. This can take the form of guided meditation, quiet meditation, quiet time, or even prayer. If you’re new to meditation, consider checking out one of the apps that offer guided meditation and instruction such as the Calm app or Headspace. Both offer free versions and can be installed on your phone so you can always have them at hand.
One of the great things about meditation is that you don’t have to spend hours and hours doing it to see immediate results. Sometimes as little as 5 or 10 minutes can have a positive impact on your mood and level of anxiety.
Turn That Frown Upside Down
What if I were to tell you that if you fake a smile, you will reduce your stress?
By “exercising” the muscles involved in smiling, you send a signal to your brain that there is no threat. It actually helps to turn off the fight or flight response and lower the harmful cortisol levels that surge during periods of stress. You can try this first thing in the morning! Even before you get out of bed. Or when you get to the mirror to check the status of bags under your eyes – force a ridiculous smile! You’re more likely to have a better day because of it.
You can also try that trick when you’re really annoyed at something or someone (might not want to do it to their face – sneak off to another room).
In fact, there is emerging science looking at the benefits of positive thinking and diabetes prevention and laughter on reducing blood sugar and cholesterol. So find things that make you laugh. It can help you in so many ways, including your spirits. And if you try to see the glass half full and be optimistic, it can help both your stress and ability to prevent type 2.
The Next Time You’re Stressed
So the next time you’re feeling stressed out and about to make a grab for that secret stash of chocolate chip cookies you’ve got tucked in back of the panty, try taking a walk first.
Better yet, grab your phone, take that walk, and listen to a stress-reduction walking meditation. Or get in a good belly laugh.
See if that doesn’t change the choices you make when you get back home.