In today’s fast-paced world, lots of things can drive you crazy. Think about sitting in traffic, people who are constantly on their cell phones when you’re trying to talk to them, or even sports! 

But life is short, maybe it’s time to relax.

Stress isn’t good for you, especially when you have diabetes. When your body makes stress hormones, it can cause your blood glucose to rise, making it harder to control. Excessive stress can cause other symptoms like feeling irritable or anxious and may affect your ability to concentrate. It can also cause your eating and sleeping habits to change. 

There are many strategies and skills to reduce stress that can be a part of your diabetes management. Here are some practical tips that may help you relax:

Meditation: Studies have demonstrated that meditation and mindfulness programs can lead to a small to moderate reduction in stress. It’s easy to try: sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed and focus only on your breathing, allowing any other thoughts to come and go. For some help, put on some soothing music or try one of the many free meditation apps that will guide you through the practice.

Create a relaxation ritual: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) notes that, in people with type 2 diabetes, stress blocks insulin from being released. For this reason, stress reduction through relaxation therapy may be helpful in people with type 2 diabetes.  Put on a face mask, light some scented candles, and soak away any outside pressure in a bubble bath. Or, find a positive phrase to repeat to yourself when you find yourself stuck in negative thoughts.

Exercise: Moving is good for you, especially when you have diabetes.  Start your day with some stretches or unwind with a walk after dinner. No need to always do a full workout; bust a few dance moves to a favorite song in the middle of the work day to loosen your whole body and release pressure. Or try some chair exercises to improve your mood and help you think more clearly. However, be sure to discuss your workout plans with your health care team before you begin.

Do nothing: Boredom can be good for you—in fact, studies suggest that it encourages people to seek new goals and experiences.  Sit in nature and daydream. Take a walk with no destination and allow your mind to wander. You may be surprised with the inspiration that comes out of “nothing.”

Get social, on and offline: Find support among your friends or in a diabetes management group, or look for an online community or forum to discuss your situation. Sharing your experiences with people who understand your diagnosis may help you cope with the lows and celebrate the highs.

The bottom line is that managing stress is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle.  Your bodyand the people around you—may thank you!

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