What is the Critical Unknow Factor in High Blood Sugar Levels?
It is stress. Stress can produce hormones that shoot your blood glucose levels up and out of your desired range without having eaten anything. Fear can also be the hidden contributor to unexpected swings in blood glucose levels and moods.
When you can’t figure out why your blood glucose level is so high despite “doing everything right,” think about the stresses in your life. Also, think about how you respond to stress.
Research shows that chronic stress impacts the body in ways like a poor diet, lack of sleep or sedentary lifestyle.
When you’re stressed, your body is primed to act. This “gearing up” is what causes your heart to beat faster, your breath to quicken, and your stomach to knot. It also triggers your blood glucose levels to skyrocket. Under stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, raising blood sugar levels to prepare you for action, If your cells are insulin resistant, the sugar builds up in your blood, with nowhere to go, leading to hyperglycaemia.
We have no shortage of short-term stress in our lives from traffic jams, working long hours at a demanding job to family arguments. Our stress hormones, which were designed to deal with short-term dangers like fighting with your boss, are turned on for long periods, even though we’re neither fighting nor resigning. What we’re doing is stewing, which can cause chronically high blood sugar.
Uncontrolled stress experienced over a long period is “chronic,” dangerous and capable of increasing your risk for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, and even cancer.
Can anxiety raise blood sugar?
My anxiety has raised my systolic rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Tension causes the body to produce a stress response. The stress response immediately secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a perceived threat. Part of the stress response changes includes elevating heart rate, which increases blood pressure and rising blood sugar so that the body is better equipped to fight or flee. It also closes aspects of the thinking brain, stomach, sex and immune system functions which is a significant problem if our stress is chronic and continues indefinitely in our lives, resulting in numerous diseases.
Dozens of studies have shown that chronic stress is related to health conditions and stress symptoms, including:
- tension headache
- fatigue (including chronic or adrenal fatigue)
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- acne and other skin conditions
- allergies and asthma
- depression and anxiety
- autoimmune disorders
- sleep disorders
- eating disorders
The brain (specifically the hippocampus) determines which feelings or events in your life are threatening, possibly helpful or damaging, and then sends signals to the cardiovascular, immune, and digestive systems via neural and endocrine mechanisms. Stress affects more than just your blood sugar. It can raise your blood pressure. It can affect your muscles, bones and pain in your joints and feet. It can affect your friendships and loved ones. So high blood sugar is just one of the negative impacts of stress. Stress, like any other illness, needs to be self-healed either before it makes you sick, or after it has made you sick, to start the self-healing process.
You need, as I had to, deal with it before worst complications, such as heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage, and vision problems set in and take control of your life.
If you are stressed out, your sugar may be elevated all the time. So, what can you do about it? No matter how busy you are, you must find ways to rest, especially if you have diabetes.
The Solution – Take time for yourself
One key aspect of reducing the effects of stress on your blood sugar level, and your health in general, is to insert little pockets of rest time into your life consciously. They don’t have to be long, but they should be frequent because rest is essential for your health and psychological and spiritual well-being. Rest is a natural and necessary part of life and work. If you don’t make time for rest, your body will demand it, by getting sick. Researchers in the Netherlands say that excessive tiredness, a state they call vital exhaustion, typified by fatigue, irritability, and demoralisation, may double your chance of heart attack, for example.
So, what are the best stress relievers available to us, and how can we ensure we don’t allow stress to control our lives? If you adhere to most of the following practices, you’re sure to feel less pressure, be able to start your self-healing and better manage your stress daily.
- Stretching and Yoga
One of the best stress relievers available to us is stretching, a natural remedy for anxiety because it releases powerful endorphin chemicals in the brain, which act like the body’s built-in painkillers and mood-lifters. Because we react to stress by experiencing changes in our neuro-endocrine systems, regular exercise is protective because it regulates various metabolic and psychological processes in the body, including reinforcing our natural circadian rhythms, sleep/wake cycles, moods and blood sugar levels.
Yoga has been shown to have similar benefits, reinforcing the “mind-body connection,” improving how people (especially women) feel about their bodies, helping with sleep and controlling anxiety.
Looking for an even more impactful way to feel the benefits of exercise? Do so while listening to uplifting music. Positive research findings indicate that music listening impacts the psycho-biological stress system helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system improves recovery time and has benefits for hormonal balance and brain functioning overall.
Regular exercise can help lower stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and improving your sleep and self-image.
- Mindfulness techniques
Are proven stress relievers that help people deal with worry, anxiety and finding peace of mind. Best of all, they can both be practised conveniently any time of day, in your own home and with no therapist, practitioner or program needed, making them a no-brainer.
Meditation has been used for literally thousands of years to improve well-being and connection to others, but today they’re backed up by science as well and are practised for as little as 10–15 minutes once or twice a day to bring about more “mindfulness” and reduce stress or anxiety.
- Vibrating devices
They stimulate the production of essential hormones. Because your whole body vibrates, it uses muscle tissues; they encourage your body to produce increased levels of human growth hormone to repair and regenerate damaged muscles and bone tissue. Your body will also reduce the production of cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress) and produce more serotonin (the hormone that induces feelings of happiness and well-being). This also helps you sleep better after starting whole body vibration training as your workout routine as I had some months ago.
- Get a massage.
Yield to your need to be kneaded. It feels amazing. And although you may not care while during having your feet rubbed, research suggests that massage strengthens immunity by helping your body produce more disease-fighting white blood cells, lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormone levels and improve your mood.
- Spending More Time in Nature and Being Social.
Making time for connecting with the people around you, spending time outside and doing things you love with family, friends and your spouse are all stress relievers that are good for your health in many ways. Social connection is tied to longevity since it helps people feel like they’re a part of something larger than themselves and helps give them perspective. Being outdoors has some similar effects, reminding people that they’re one piece of a much larger universe, lifting their moods and making it easier to get good sleep.
- Keeping a Journal
Keeping track of your emotions, both positive and negative, along with the events that can trigger them helps you identify what’s causing stress. A journal is an easy, effective way to monitor your state of mind throughout the day, focus on thoughts that cause you harm and figure out what’s really bothering you when you’re unsure. A journal can also reduce stress by helping you to stay organised, such as listing out appointments, household responsibilities, job assignments or other tasks, so you’re less frantic and likely to miss important deadlines.
- Sit in the sun for 15 minutes a day.
Most people do not have sufficient vitamin D. Vitamin D has also been studied for the positive effects it has on improving levels of calming neurotransmitters which will help reduce anxiety and the blood sugar levels. Read my Vitamin D blog – I believe it is important.
- Using Herbs and Essential Oils
Several adaptogenic herbs and essential oils have been shown to improve anxiety symptoms by reducing the effects that stress and cortisol have on the body. Adaptogens (including ginseng, ashwagandha, maca, Rhodiola, holy basil and cocoa) are a unique class of healing plants that balance, restore and protect the body and make it easier to handle stress by regulating hormones and physiological functions. Essential oils such as lavender, myrrh, frankincense and bergamot are also capable of reducing inflammation, improving immunity, balancing hormones, and helping with sleep and digestion.
- Breathing Exercises
Mental stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, signalling your body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode. During this reaction, stress hormones are released, and you experience physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat, quicker breathing and constricted blood vessels. Deep breathing exercises can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response. The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and more in-depth. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand, and your belly rises. This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful. Slow, deep breathing and specific breathing exercises help the body override the sympathetic system, which controls our fight-or-flight response, and lets the parasympathetic system, which controls our ability to relax and play a more dominant role.
- Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses can increase anxiety. People have different thresholds for how much caffeine they can tolerate. If you notice that caffeine makes you jittery or anxious, consider cutting back.
Although many studies show that coffee can be healthy in moderation, it’s not for everyone. In general, three or fewer cups per day is considered a moderate amount.
- Write It Down
One way to handle stress is to write things down. While recording what you’re stressed about is one approach, another, more important and useful, is jotting down why you are grateful. Gratitude will help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.
- Spend Time with Friends and Family
Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times. Being part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help you in tough times.
One study found that spending time with friends helps release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. This effect is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Both men and women benefit from friendship. Another study found that men and women with the fewest social connections were more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. It’s good for your health, and there are a few ways it may help relieve stress:
- Relieving your stress response.
- Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles.
In the long term, laughter can also help improve your immune system and mood. A study among people with cancer found that people in the laughter intervention group experienced more stress relief than those who were merely distracted. Try watching a funny TV show or hanging out with friends who make you laugh.
- Learn to Say No
Not all stressors are within your control, but some are. Take control over the parts of your life that you can change and are causing you stress. One way to do this may be to say “no” more often. This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Being selective about what you take on and saying no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load can reduce your stress levels.
- Learn to Avoid Procrastination
Another way to take control of your stress is to stay on top of your priorities and stop procrastinating. Procrastination can lead you to act reactively, leaving you scrambling to catch up. This can cause stress, which negatively affects your health and sleep quality. Get in the habit of not making a to-do list organised by priority, but rather a life-list – an overview of what is essential in your life and job – not all the tasks you have to do. Give yourself a clear picture of the most important categories to fulfil what you want in your life and career. And then make sure you get these aspects done before all the pressing tasks that do not promote your life-list.
Cuddling, kissing, hugging and sex can all help relieve stress. Positive physical contact can help release oxytocin and lower cortisol and blood sugar levels. This can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are physical symptoms of stress.
- Listen to Soothing Music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones and sugar levels. Some types of classical, Celtic, Native American and Indian music can be particularly soothing, but merely listening to the slow-thyme music you enjoy, is useful too. Nature sounds can also be very calming.
- Light a Candle – aromatherapy.
Using essential oils or burning a scented candle may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety. Some scents are especially soothing. Here are some of the most calming scents:
- Roman chamomile
- Orange or orange blossom
Several studies show that aromatherapy can decrease anxiety, improve sleep, lower anxiety and stress. Light a candle or use essential oils to benefit from calming scents while you work or during relaxing hours of your day.
- Spend Time with your pet
Having a pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood. Having a pet may also help relieve stress by giving you purpose, keeping you active and providing companionship, all qualities that help reduce anxiety.
Foods that will help reduce stress and blood sugar levels.
- Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which assists in anxiety relief by promoting brain health.
- Chamomile is a herb that helps reduce anxiety. It contains high amounts of antioxidants – Several studies have examined the association between chamomile and anxiety relief.
- Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin; a compound studied for its role in promoting brain health and preventing anxiety disorders.
- Dark Chocolate – Incorporating some dark chocolate into your diet will help ease anxiety. Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which are antioxidants that benefit brain function. They do this by improving blood flow to the brain and promoting its ability to adapt to stressful situations. These effects may allow you to adjust better to the stressful situations that can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders. Eating dark chocolate has also been shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which may help reduce the stress that leads to anxiety.
- Yoghurt with live cultures contain probiotics, which has a positive effect on brain health and anxiety levels.
- Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has positive effects on brain health and anxiety reduction.
- Free-range eggs, meat and dairy products, all provide high-quality protein including essential amino acids that produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which have the potential to improve mental health.
- Citrus fruits and bell peppers are rich in nutrients including vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and prevent damage to cells that promotes anxiety.
- Almonds provide a significant amount of vitamin E, which has been studied for its role in anxiety prevention.
- Blueberries and Blackberries are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, such as flavonoids, that have been considered for their ability to improve brain health and thus help with anxiety relief.