I'm stressed and a diabetic
Can you relate? If I made you click on the link so you can read this blog post I think you are like me: a person whose numbers are rapidly affected by stress. Stress can come from various sources: family, friendships, work, school, house, money or relationships. Each and every human being experiences stress. If you don’t, well your defense mechanism is broken. You need to know how stress feels like because it is in our nature. Your body needs to know the difference between danger and no danger. However, this is where it gets tricky. It is normal to feel stress, but in our society, stress is the norm. When stress is all you feel, this is your body telling you: okay wow take a step back my friend, you need to chill.
I have lived many stressful events in my life: moved twice to new cities, got a new job recently that I did not like, developed anxiety partly due because of my diabetes, being in a long distance relationship. I am not here to nag and that is not what I am trying to do. I am just telling you that sometimes events happen in your life and even if they are fun and exciting, they are causing a big amount of stress to your body and brain without you even noticing. I am sure you can think about stressful events that happen in your life as well, positive or negative. The thing for us T1s is that we need to be careful with stress. Everybody knows that stress can have a long-term effect on a heart, or can have bad physical side effects. For us though, the effects are INSTANT: high blood sugars, heart racing, shaking. Just think of when you had to do an oral presentation: I don’t know about you but I was always so high and thirsty before one. The good thing about these stressful situations is that there are ways to reduce your stress and learn how to live with it, while trying to diminish the instant side effects. Stress is always going to be present in our lives, so you can learn how to flow with it and accept it next time it hits you. Here’s how:
The basic one. The one you hear every time and read everywhere. Buuut, it’s true. I am sure that you can think of one time where your heart rate rose up and you decided to take a small walk. Your stress level went down after it, I am sure of it. In my case, when I exercise, I try to let all my stress out. A study have found that taking time for 15 minutes of cardio a day or 3 times a week is the equivalent of taking antidepressants for the first 6 months.
Why do we stress? We often stress while thinking about the future: Will I have enough money to pay my mortgage? Will I have my dream job? Will I do well on the interview? Will I be okay on the plane? Will my blood sugar drop during a presentation? Will I go high before my exam? Worrying only leads to stress, and usually we worry for something that won’t even happen. Thinking about the present is the key. Your blood sugar might go high, but thinking about it going high will only make that happen. Stay calm, and always think about the worst scenario. So what? So what I’m high, it will go down. So what I’m low? I will eat candies and if I’m in public, people are humans, the'y’ll understand.
Remember the little diary you used to have when you were a kid? Well, it’s time to bring memories back and do the same. When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, journaling helps me a lot. I play classical music, open my notebook, and start writing everything that’s on my mind. It’s like talking to someone, but really you’re talking to yourself and every time I do that activity, I realize stuff. I realize sometimes that the problems are bigger in my head than what they are in reality. Often, taking a step back and seeing the problem(s) from another perspective will make you think: ‘‘everything is going to be alright’’.
This one can be done every day, or in case of emergencies. When you see yourself panicking or stressed, let’s say because you are starting to go low in traffic, or because you missed your bus for work, or because you forgot to put insulin for your meal, BREATHE. When we are stressed, we don’t think rationally. It’s like if everything becomes blurry. Breathing makes you come back to the present and calms you so you can make rational decisions before a disaster happens. One app that really helps me is the Calm app. It has a lot of meditation sessions, and also has one for urgent situations where you feel like it’s the end of the world.
So don’t worry. Be happy.