Relax, Your Blood Sugar Will Thank You

Today is National Stress Awareness Day. We all know that stress is bad for our overall health. It is a risk factor for intestinal problems, a weakened immune system, mental health problems, heart disease and more. Therefore it’s not surprising that there is a day set aside to remind us to educate ourselves on the dangers of stress and how to fight the feeling.

There are three types of stress. Acute stress is caused by the situation around you and will pass once the stressors are gone. Episodic acute stress is suffered by people who are always finding themselves in crisis situations and go from one situation to the next with a harried temperament. Chronic stress is caused by long, on-going problems such an unhappy job, long-term illness or family problems. This stress can become so ingrained in a person they might not even notice it.

By recognizing stress, identifying its cause and working to mitigate the problem, you can turn your health around. That’s very important for people with blood sugar concerns. During times of stress, blood sugar spikes to give you the energy for a “fight or flight” physical response. Then insulin is released to get unused glucose back into the cells. So, over time, stress can increase your body’s insulin resistance. By acknowledging a problem you can focus on exercises to relieve yourself of the stress and modifying your diet during times of unavoidable stress.

Another aspect of how stress impacts your blood sugar is through hormones. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, lower willpower. This means that, along with cortisol releasing glucose into your blood, it then makes the prefrontal cortex of the brain — which is needed to stop cravings — under reactive. That is why you are more likely to stress eat and break a diet or good habit.

With the holidays coming up, you are bound to run into stressors. The big plans, copious amounts of food and breaks in routine can wreak havoc on your blood sugar. Then there are homemade cookies and last-minute runs to the store that change all your diet and meal times. With that in mind, take time for yourself to breathe and relax over the holiday season. And do your blood sugar a favor: skip the stores on Black Friday.

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