Did you know stress can affect your blood sugar level? There are different ways of dealing with stress that may help. Getting outside, being active, and regular exercise can help relieve stress.

Like physical activity and healthy eating, no single relaxation method works for everyone. The important things are to keep a positive mental attitude and try several methods to find what works best for you. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about any mental health concerns.

Suggestions for dealing with stress:

Out with the negative
It’s much easier said than done, but try not to dwell on things that make you sad, angry, or tense. Remember, any energy you’re using to focus on negative thoughts is not available to be used to positively improve your health and diabetes management. It would be great if you could do something to change the things that are making you sad, angry, or nervous. If not, try to think about them briefly, but then replace them with positive thoughts or images.

Join a support group This can be a diabetes-specific group or one that helps with your particular source of stress (such as support groups for people caring for an elderly parent, overcoming grief, or living with a loved one with a substance abuse problem). When you get to know other people who are dealing with the same issues, you can draw strength from each other.

Consider counseling For some, it’s helpful to try to figure out why certain things cause you so much stress. It can assist you in learning ways of changing your behavior or even help to provide ways to communicate with friends and family that may be causing the stress.

Being tense, angry, or stressed can make it difficult for you to adhere to your diabetes treatment plan

Try journaling Keeping a diary or journal can be a very powerful tool to help you successfully manage your diabetes. Some families keep individual journals and use them to share one thought per week per member to aid in "getting things out in the open." It's sometimes easier to read something written down than craft a thought off the cuff.

A journal can support your self-management efforts in many ways:

  • As an important outlet for emotions and stress
  • As a tool to support relaxation and meditation
  • To help you set goals and monitor your progress toward achieving them
  • As a way to keep track of your responses to insulin and/or other medications or new treatments so you can look for patterns. Be sure to share this information with your healthcare provider to help evaluate how these changes are affecting you

There are no hard and fast rules for keeping a journal. The best way to begin journaling is to just start writing and then make a commitment to set aside time in your day for this activity.

The thing about stress that we want you to remember is that from time to time we all deal with it. Who hasn’t faced a move? A loss? A big change? So it’s good to have a few tools in your personal toolbox to face stress head–on. Sometimes writing something down in a journal is all it takes to help you get past the challenging event. Plus, you can go back later, read what you wrote then pat yourself on the back for getting through that challenging time! And don’t feel you need to limit yourself to just one tip. Try as many as you need, and use the ones that work for you.