Theresa Garnero, APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDCES
To stress, or not to stress
Ah, a New Year and a new opportunity to start fresh.
Instead of making lofty goals, what about doing a little something each day that can help bring more joy (besides the blood sugar perks that come with it)?
How about chipping away at having less S-T-R-E-S-S?!
Stress can have a negative impact on life and in particular, blood sugar. And of course, living with prediabetes and diabetes is stressful. Then, add other life situations that stress you out, and often you’ll see your blood sugar trend upwards. So, what if you step back and think about sources of stress in your life and how you respond. Is there anything you can do to minimize or even resolve them? You can start by putting them into 2 categories, what you can change or not.
Focus on things you can change:
- How you spend your day
- How you communicate your needs to others
- How many items you put on your to-do list and how much time you spend on any given task
- How you react to others or situations that waltz into your day (and how long you hold onto that detail that derailed your train or left you feeling hurt)
- What you decide to eat or drink and whether or not to exercise
- Actively looking for and focusing on the positive (you “see what you seek”)
Don’t focus on things you cannot change
Focusing on things you can’t change will add to your stress. You can’t change other people, your upbringing, having to wait for (fill in the blank – the doctor, the pharmacy to refill your medications, the stoplight, the post office clerk), and what your blood sugar is this moment. Try to look at your blood sugar as data. It reflects what has happened leading up to this point. That informs you about actions you can take moving forward.
Ideas to use to help manage overall and high-sugar related stress
- Tell family and friends ways in which will help with your prediabetes and diabetes (and what doesn’t help – like commenting on food choices)
- Be patient with yourself
- Shift your perspective by trying to find the humor in what went wrong
- Get out in nature or tune into the chirping birds outside
- Go for a 10-minute walk or do a 5-minute meditation
- Listen to favorite music
- Do something fun you enjoy with family or a friend
- Avoid or limit exposure to negative people
- Read for pleasure
- Take things in stride
- Celebrate life
- Back up computer files
- Choose your battles wisely
- Write in a journal
- Try something different
- Allow yourself to stress out for 10 minutes a day about a given topic (then when those stress thoughts pop into your mind later, tell yourself, “I’ll think about this stress later during the time I can spend on it but not now!”
- Look forward
- Know your limit
- Get enough rest and regular sleep
- Daydream about “what if” or about a vacation
- Take a relaxing bath
- Quickly name 10 things to be grateful for
It’s stressful enough just trying to live a life of wellness given high blood sugar (and other medical issues that tend to come with it). That type of “distress” is normal. All the other daily activities that can lead to being annoyed, mad, upset, and saying swear words in English or a foreign language – that’s the opportunity – to limit adding more stress on top of life with managing high sugar.
What are you willing to try, to incorporate as a part of your New Year’s routine, or to continue? Finding ways to be less stressed is helpful way beyond your blood sugar readings. Think about how much more fun you are to be around when you’re a lot less stressed!