Stress and Diabetes

Stress and Diabetes is not a match made in heaven. 

As a type 2 diabetic, I am always aware of the foods I eat and the potential these foods have on my blood sugar level.

But did you know that the foods you eat are not the only things that can have a negative impact on your blood sugar level?  

That's right!  Stress can play havoc on your glucose and insulin levels.  

So if you have diabetes, be sure you understand the effects of stress and learn ways to prevent your stress.

Understanding the Impact of Stress on Diabetics

Understanding stress and diabetes can help you better control your glucose levels. Our body is an amazing thing that is designed to protect itself from many different things. 

For example, if a person consumes too few calories, then the body will go into survival mode and begin to store the foods you eat as fat, using this fat as potential food for later. 

sugarSimilarly, our body also prepares itself when in stressful situations. 

When the body senses stress, it releases an increased level of different hormones which in turn makes excess energy available in the form of glucose and fat. 

For those of us with diabetes, this excess energy often equates to an increase in our blood sugar level. 

This is because there is either no insulin or the insulin level is not sufficient to allow the excess energy to move to our cells. 

Instead the excess glucose piles up in our blood which in turns increases the blood sugar level.

Effects of Stress

tress for anyone can cause higher risks of medical problems such as increased risk of heart disease and stroke. 

But stress and diabetes increases certain risks in addition to causing increased blood sugar levels.

This increase can be caused by a couple of things. 

First, people who are stressed are often too focused on the stressful event and forget to focus on what they eat and/or drink. 

As a diabetic, we all know that the foods and drinks we consume can have an adverse effect on our blood sugar level. 

But when stressed, we may forget to monitor our food intake or increase our alcohol intake. 

Additionally, we may forget to monitor our blood sugar level. 

This happens because our minds are mostly consumed with the stressful situation.

Secondly, as mentioned above, our bodies will automatically alter itself in order to protect it from a potentially dangerous situation. 

In a stressful situation, our body prepares to handle the stress by readying itself for a fight or a flight.  This increases the energy available to the cells. 

However, stress and diabetes reacts differently and often takes this excess energy to the blood stream. This is because a diabetics insulin level cannot move this excess glucose to the cells, where the body needs it for the stressful moment.

In addition to the body creating excess energy in the form of glucose and fat, for a person with type 2 diabetes, the body also blocks insulin from being released while in the stressful moment. 

Therefore, if you have type 2 diabetes, learning to handle your stress can have a positive impact on tstressed out manhe release of your insulin.

Although for those people with Type I Diabetes that cannot produce insulin, regardless of stress or not, learning to handle stress and diabetes can benefit all diabetics.

Managing Stress

Managing stress and diabetes is always easier than said. 

But there are techniques that you can use to keep you from turning into a sour puss and instead be a “sweet” and calm person, helping to keep your blood sugar level in check.

Here are some simple but helpful ways to deal with everyday stress.


Taking deep breaths in and out is a great way to relax.  As you breathe, focus your mind on the breathing, pushing out any other thoughts.  Begin to relax your muscles as you do your breathing. 


Exercise has many benefits such as helping to lose weight, increasing energy and reducing the risks of medical diseases.  But exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. 

If you are having a stressful moment, try to take some time out and go for a brisk walk.  Even a leisure walk will help.  Focus on your footsteps and not the event that caused you stress. 

In addition to understanding stress and diabetes read this article on exercise and diabetes.

Adjust your thinking

Try to alter your behavior of how you deal with stress.  If you tend to be overly passionate things that stress you and explode, try to count to ten before you respond. 

If you take these few seconds, you may learn to handle the situation better and instead of exploding, you can calmly address the stress.

Relaxation Therapy

If you have tried breathing, counting, walking and find yourself still stressed, you many want to try relaxation therapy.  You can learn this in a clinic, audio tape or video tape.

Additional Articles

Diabetic Diet

Find out what's involved with a diabetic diet and how you can start eating the right foods to help manage your blood sugar level.

Diabetic Food Tracker Spreadsheet
Download this file to start tracking what you eat to better control your blood sugar levels.

Counting Carbs or Making Carbs Count
You don't have to give up all carbohydrates to eat healthier.

Just make sure you choose the good carbs and make them count.