Managing Stress and High Blood Glucose

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Stress can affect diabetes.

Managing stress and high blood glucose can be tricky. Everyone experiences stress, but for people suffering from diabetes uncontrolled stress can have detrimental effects on health.

The Effects of Stress on High Blood Glucose

Many factors come into play when your blood glucose levels rise because of stress. It may be your body's natural response to stress or you may change your lifestyle because of the stress you are experiencing.

Stress Effects on Diabetes

Mental stress has a larger impact on Type 2 diabetes blood glucose levels than for people with Type 1 diabetes. Mental stress is anxiety you come across in your daily life, this could be normal work stressors or a crisis in your life. This mental stress usually leads to a physiological response which interferes with your body's ability to produce adequate insulin. Your body produces insulin on its own but when a person is under high levels of stress, the body uses the energy that it would normally use to produce insulin and redirects it to fighting off whatever crisis you are dealing with at the time. Since insulin production is compromised, the body begins to accumulate sugar in the bloodstream resulting in high blood glucose levels.

Individuals with Type 1 diabetes suffer higher levels of blood glucose from physical stress. When individuals such as athletes place high demands on their bodies to perform, their bodies do not know how to cope with the extra work and will compromise insulin production to keep up with the physical stress.

Besides the physiological responses of stress on high blood glucose levels, people suffering from diabetes also change their lifestyle, which contributes to the higher levels of blood glucose. When individuals are under high levels of stress, they usually eat unhealthy meals, don't exercise, and forget to take their medications. All of these factors along with the physiological disadvantage to insulin production can dramatically increase blood glucose to harmful levels.

Managing Stress and High Blood Glucose Levels

A great way to lower high blood glucose levels in people with diabetes is to lower the physiological responses to stress. Lowering the physiological response to stress means lowering mental distress first and then training your body to calm down to a relaxed state.

It is possible to manage stress in sports. If you exercise regularly or are an athlete, you need to take care of your body while you are training and playing. Remember, physical stress has a large impact on individuals with Type 1 diabetes.

Another helpful article for athletes or individuals who exercise regularly, learn how stretching can help release stress in the muscles, which is another reaction to the physiological response to stress. Releasing tension from your muscles before and after a workout will help you prevent injury and relax your body.

By discovering positive strategies for managing stress you can lower mental stress as well as your physiological responses. You can do many quick stress relievers each day, which is a good idea since stress can quickly spiral out of control and become difficult to manage.

Meditation is an effective stress management technique that can help you release mental and physical anxiety at the same time. If you have never done meditation before, there are many different types of meditation to choose from that can offer benefits for your health and mental state.


Once you are able to control your anxiety and stress levels, you will be able to manage your diabetes better - managing stress and high blood glucose levels go hand in hand. You will care more about yourself, eat healthy, exercise, and take your medication as prescribed. Your body will respond to your calmer disposition and be able to work efficiently with the medication you take to help the insulin keep your blood glucose levels under control.

Managing Stress and High Blood Glucose