Stress Management 

Stress Raises Blood Sugars!

Most of the information you will find online when you are researching how to control your blood sugars will focus on food and exercise.  But I noticed the one area that is not emphasized … yet is critical… is the topic of managing stress.

You may have heard about stress raising your blood PRESSURE…but, for women with Gestational Diabetes.. or anyone with Diabetes, stress can raise blood SUGARS!

Being pregnant is an exciting time!  If you are a first time mom, you may be feeling some stress with the changes that are around the corner… or juggling pregnancy and other kiddos can be challenging too!  Add to that the fear of having Gestational Diabetes means you are really challenging your body’s ability to deal with the stress.

“When you're stressed, your blood sugar levels rise. Stress hormones like epinephrine and cortisol kick in since one of their major functions is to raise blood sugar to help boost energy when it's needed most.

Think of the fight-or-flight response. You can't fight danger when your blood sugar is low, so it rises to help meet the challenge. Both physical and emotional stress can prompt an increase in these hormones, resulting in an increase in blood sugars.

People who aren't diabetic have compensatory mechanisms to keep blood sugar from swinging out of control.

But in people with diabetes, those mechanisms are either lacking or blunted, so they can't keep a lid on blood sugar", says David Sledge, MD, medical director of diabetes management at The Ochsner Clinic Foundation in Baton Rouge, La.

In diabetes, there isn't enough insulin to cope with these hormones, so blood sugar levels rise, says Richard Surwit, PhD, vice chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center and author of The Mind Body Diabetes Revolution.

The problem may be compounded because under these pressures, you may lose your appetite and skimp on eating, or reach for not-so healthy quick fixes like candy or chips. Some people actually "stress eat" (overeat during stressful periods). Others skip their daily workout because they're too strained or run down to keep it up, which can create a vicious cycle since exercise is an excellent way to lower blood sugar.  (source:  www.webmd.com)

Now that you have a general understanding of what stress does to your body and blood sugars, and hopefully realize WHY YOU MUST find ways to manage stress, lets review  some tips on what you can do:

  1. Start paying attention to when you are stressed.  Sometimes we don’t even realize we are tense, holding our breath or feeling anxious.  Are you tense when driving to work, or in traffic?  How about waiting in line at the grocery store?
  2. In addition to completing your food and blood sugar log, make a notation of WHEN you are stressed. Make notes about what it is that is causing the stress and compare it to your blood sugar readings. This may help explain why you are experiencing spikes… even when you are  eating the right foods!
  3. Find natural ways to DE-STRESS. Going for a walk, sitting and listening to music, reading a good book are some ideas.  Other techniques that I have mentioned in my e-book are below:
    1. Deep breathing. I like to recommend deep breathing because it is a technique you can use anywhere.  Unlike meditation, you don’t need to be in a quiet place to get the full and immediate effect.  ( I used to have a link to a Youtube Video but the links keep changing.  So, the best thing is to search for deep breathing videos.  There are so many to choose from, so pick one that you like and try it out!)
    2. Prenatal massage.  Massages are a great way to help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy and experience a state of relaxation.  It is safe to get a massage when pregnant, but you will need to do your homework and find a massage therapist who is trained and certified in prenatal massage as there are different techniques for women who are pregnant.  Always consult with your doctor before getting a massage.   (For more information look up "prenatal massage" on Youtube!  Again, the links I used to have changed, so the best thing is to look it up.  Also there are always newer ones getting posted so I would hate for you to miss an even better video!)
    3. Acupuncture. Not many people know about acupuncture but it has been around for centuries and is a wonderful natural treatment for many ailments.  Again, make sure you find a qualified, certified acupuncturist and always talk to your doctor if you choose to try acupuncture.
    4. Emotional Freedom Technique. This technique involves tapping on key meridian points on your body to release tension, self sabotaging thoughts and take back control in your life.  This is yet another treatment that has been around for centuries but appears to be gaining popularity again as a natural technique that you can learn to do at home or anywhere.  (There are a ton of videos on Youtube explaining and demonstrating EFT.   I personally use it to help me with my pubic speaking jitters! )
  1. Some good books to read that address natural ways to deal with stress in our lives:
    1. Mindfulness For Dummies by Shamash Alidina
    2. Introducing EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique): A Practical Guide by Judy Byrne
    3. Meditation for Beginners by Stephanie Clement, PH.D
    4. Acupuncture in Pregnancy and Childbirth, by West by Zita West