Life can be stressful when you have diabetes, here are 6 tips to help you relax and unwind:
1) Burn it off
As quoted by the NHS page on exercise – "If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented". With exercise and diabetes in particular, physical activity will help get rid of that extra energy which the fight-or-flight stress provides. Of course, there should be a balance, too much exercise may take a toll on the body.
2) Ingest to de-stress
Much like exercise, you will already know that eating and drinking well is beneficial. But did you know that certain foods or drinks can increase or decrease stress?
Alcohol may seem like a de-stressor because it lowers inhibitions. But habitual drinking will increase stress in the long-term. Certain foods can also increase cortisol – that stress hormone - this includes coffee and sugar. Opt for foods that reduce cortisol; such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and fruit. Of course these are just a few examples, you should speak with your dietitian before making any major dietary changes.
3) Let it out
Your anxieties shouldn't have to sit within you: let go of them. Speaking to a mental health professional is a good shout, especially if you have particular problems that you want to address. Be open to talking with family and friends too, it's relieving to talk about your problems with people who care for you.
This is any kind of action that focuses on your present state of being: taking time to simply be aware of your body. This often includes relaxing breathing techniques – taking slow and long breaths while standing or sitting in a comfortable position. There is a plethora of mindfulness techniques out there. If you are unfamiliar with it, mindfulness doesn't need to seem "peculiar" – you can just take a moment in your day to be calm.
5) Less screen, more sleep
A lack of sleep causes stress, and stress causes a lack of sleep. Break the cycle by turning your environment into a sleep-haven. Most importantly, curb your screen time before bed: the blue light from laptops and phones affects your body's production of melatonin, the hormone that deals with sleep.
6) Know your stress
We all have different thresholds for stress. Pay attention to how much is too much; don’t overload yourself. Sometimes, it’s ok to say no to events and plans. Find your balance. Plus, if you discover what your triggers are, you can plan in advance how to combat your stress when it does come.
We hope these tips help you find a greater sense of calm and relaxation. If you want to learn about the common stressors for people living with diabetes take a look at our article titled ‘Common anxieties and the Diabetes Distress Scale’.