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Your Guide to Treating Diabetes

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7 Tips for Managing the Stress of Type 2 Diabetes

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Evelyn Creekmore on June 3, 2021
  • Senior, overweight Hispanic woman smiling and walking outside with hand weights
    Stress management: Why is it essential for diabetes?
    If you’re one of the more than 30 million people in the United States living with type 2 diabetes, it’s very important to manage your stress ̶ both the everyday stress everyone faces and the extra stress that comes with a chronic condition. The more stressed out you are, the more sugar the stress hormone cortisol pumps into your bloodstream, elevating the blood sugar you’re working so hard to control through diet, exercise, or medicine. Keep the stress factor in mind as you’re following your treatment plan. These stress and diabetes tips can help.
  • Woman jogging up stairs
    1. Get enough exercise.
    Regular exercise is usually a key component of a diabetes treatment plan to lower your blood sugar level and help you maintain a healthy weight. It’s also an effective way to reduce stress. Exercise tends to take your mind off your worries, especially as your body releases “feel good” endorphins in the process. Choose an exercise you enjoy, like swimming or dancing, but check with your doctor before trying anything new. Make sure you’re clear on when to check your blood sugar level (usually right before and right after exercise) and skip the session if your levels are too high.
  • Woman receiving massage
    2. Practice self-care as a stress reduction technique.
    Self-care is a broad term with many interpretations, but it essentially means doing things that are good for you physically and mentally and avoiding things that are bad for you. For those managing diabetes, this can look like setting priorities, completing one task at a time, taking breaks, getting plenty of rest, and allowing yourself to have fun. This may mean getting lost in a good book, enjoying a massage, soaking in some nature, or playing with your children, grandchildren, or fur baby.
  • women-at-restaurant-laughing-with-drinks
    3. Talk about stress and diabetes.
    Bottling up your feelings about managing diabetes is a mistake. They will only build up and cause more stress if you don’t give them an appropriate outlet. Talk to friends, family members, and your healthcare team about your experience. Try to get in the habit of being clear about why you’re sharing at any given time. Sometimes, you may just want to vent. Other times, you may need advice or assistance. You can save yourself a lot of frustration by stating where you’re coming from at the start.
  • group of smiling seniors sitting in circle during support group session
    4. Seek out support from people in your same situation.
    Sometimes, it can be hard for people to understand what you’re going through if they haven’t been there themselves. This lack of understanding is natural, but it can leave you feeling disconnected and alone. Ask your doctor how to connect with people who are fighting the stress of diabetes, too. You might find in-person support groups in your community or your doctor may be able to steer you to online resources or diabetes educators that have helped other patients in the past.
  • Man writing in journal
    5. Ask for help with the daily grind.
    Managing diabetes can come with a seemingly endless list of to dos. Check your blood sugar levels. Watch what you eat. Squeeze in some exercise. Take your medicine on time. Getting a little help with any of it can make a big difference. If you don’t have a friend or family member who can take over some of the tasks, or do them with you for moral support, consider hiring an assistant or a home health aide. Or, learn what tasks in your everyday life can be appropriately delegated to others.
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  • Close-up of woman's hand using calculator
    6. Check into savings on diabetes expenses.
    Part of the stress of managing diabetes can come from the costs. Research from the American Diabetes Association shows people with diabetes generally spend more than twice as much on healthcare as those who don’t have diabetes. The typical breakdown of expenses, from highest cost to lowest, is: hospitalizations, prescription medicines, supplies, and doctor’s office visits. Ask your doctor and pharmacist if they know of any savings programs funded by the government or other organizations. Community health centers can also be a valuable resource.
  • senior African American man sitting in office study looking at laptop
    7. Consider trying telehealth for routine appointments.
    Telehealth has been around for decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic really put it in the spotlight. Both physicians and patients have adopted it in droves, most insurers now cover it, and costs have come in-line with in-person doctor’s visits. Many people living with diabetes find incorporating telehealth into their routine to be a real stress buster because it saves them time and reduces the anxiety of traffic, parking, and the waiting room. Ask your doctor about telehealth and check in with your insurance provider about coverage.
Stress Management Tips | Stress and Diabetes
  1. Diabetes Care During COVID-19: The Power of Telemedicine. The diaTribe Foundation.
  2. Stress relief a ‘forgotten component’ of managing type 2 diabetes. The American Institute of Stress.
  3. 5 Best Exercises for People with Diabetes. Cleveland Clinic.
  4. 10 Tips for Coping with Diabetes Distress. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  5. The Cost of Diabetes. American Diabetes Association.
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Last Review Date: 2021 May 27
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