Feeling stressed these days? It’s hard not to if you are always worried about managing your diabetes. You have to remember to take your insulin and your medicines at the right times. You need to check your glucose regularly and think about losing weight. You’ve got to keep your cholesterol in the right range. And on top of all that, you have to quit smoking if you do smoke. It’s enough to make even the calmest person feel stressed.
Stress makes it hard for you to manage your diabetes. It also does real harm to your body. Feeling stressed all the time is called “chronic stress.” Chronic stress has been shown to raise blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease. It also prevents your immune system from fighting disease, and can lead to depression.
We all wish that stress would just go away. But for most of us, stress is here to stay. Like diabetes, stress is something you can learn to manage. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help deal with your daily stress and reduce how it affects your body. Remember to BREATHE and read on to find some tips to help manage your stress.
- 1. B Be prepared. Do you often feel stressed because you have to take care of too many things at once? Does it feels like the week just flies by? Sure, you may just be having a busy week. But if this is the way your life is every day of the year, then planning ahead may help. Take 5 minutes at the start of each day to make a list and plan for your day. Most people get that 5 minutes time back at the end of the day and feel less stressed overall.
- 2. R Relax. Easier said than done, right? The key to relaxing is to make it a priority, like the other things on your list. Don’t know how to relax? Find a method that works well for you and take 15 minutes each day to do it. Studies have shown that just sitting for 10 – 20 minutes a day and focusing on saying a single word over and over can help you lower your blood pressure. Sounds silly? Try it out for a week. You may find that at the end of the week, your body is having an easier time relaxing and you’re looking forward to those 15 minutes of peace.
- 3. E Exercise. When you’re busy, taking time to do exercise often drops to the bottom of your list of to-dos. But exercise is a sure-fire way to help you handle stress and reduce the bad effects that stress has on your body. In fact, moderate exercise makes your brain release feel-good chemicals called “endorphins” that help you relax. It also takes your mind off your problems and gives you a chance to think of ways to solve them.
- 4. A Ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask the people around you to help. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Nervous about giving yourself your insulin shot? Ask your spouse to help if he or she is able. True friends and family are there to support you when you need it. If you’re worried you’re asking too much from them, make sure they know how much their help means to you, and try to return the favor when they need help.
- 5. T Talk to someone. People are social. It makes us feel good to reach out to others and when our friends, family, and peers understand us. When you talk to people about your stress, you may find others who have tips and advice to share.
- 6. H Halt. You have to stop at some point, so why not now? If you’re feeling overwhelmed and things are too much for you to handle, just stop and walk away. Sometimes the best way of dealing with stress is to remove yourself. Go back to whatever was causing you stress after you’ve had a chance to relax or had a good night’s sleep.
- 7. E Eat well. If you don’t take care of your body, the effects of stress multiply and you might feel even worse. Make sure you eat plenty of healthy foods to keep your body working well, and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Think of your body as a battery. If you keep it charged when your stress levels are low, then you’ve got more energy for when they’re high.