How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels

How Stress Affects Blood Sugar Levels

Publish Date October 5, 2022 4 Minute Read
Author Glucerna

We all deal with stress in different ways, but did you know that your body can deal with stress in different ways too? Depending on the source of stress in your life, your blood sugar levels may react differently. This is especially important information for diabetics, but everyone can benefit from knowing what’s happening to their blood sugar and how to handle it.

Two types of stress can change your blood sugar levels: physical stress and mental or emotional stress.
Physical stress generally causes blood sugar levels to increase. Physical stress you may experience includes illness, surgery or injury.

Mental or emotional stress has mixed effects on your blood sugar, and its effects may depend on the type of diabetes you have:

  • Type 1 diabetes: Mental stress can increase or decrease blood sugar levels.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Mental stress generally increases blood sugar levels.

Stress can also affect your blood sugar levels indirectly, by causing you to forget about your regular diabetes care routine. When you're stressed out, you might exercise or eat more or less than you normally would. You may also choose less healthy foods than when you’re stress-free, forget your medication or insulin, or not test your blood sugar level as regularly. It’s easy to see why in situations like this, a little stress can snowball.

Track the Effects of Your Mental Stress on Blood Sugar

Use your diabetes logbook to discover if mental stress affects your blood sugar levels, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. Some people with type 2 diabetes are very sensitive to stress; it causes their bodies to produce especially high levels of stress hormones, which drive blood sugar levels up.

You can follow these steps to find out if your blood sugar levels are affected by mental stress:

  1. Rate your stress level on a scale of 1-10, where 1 indicates the lowest stress level and 10 the highest. Record your stress level in your logbook.
  2. Test your glucose using your home monitor and enter the result.
  3. After 1-2 weeks, study your results to see if there’s a pattern or relationship between your stress level and your blood sugar levels.

Once you know how your blood sugar levels are personally affected by stress, take steps to help reduce your stress and keep things regular.

  • Teach yourself to relax when under stress using deep breathing exercises or other stress management techniques.
  • Evaluate your daily and weekly schedule and determine if you can make changes to relieve stress.
  • If you don’t already, add regular exercise to your routine.
  • Consider supplementing your diet with a nutritional shake to help minimize blood sugar spikes. Glucerna is the #1 doctor-recommended nutritional shake for people with diabetes, and it contains CARBSTEADY®, which includes low glycemic carbohydrates formulated to help minimize blood sugar spikes* as part of a diabetes management plan.

Now you know how stress can affect your blood sugar, and some of the best ways to deal with it. While it may never be possible to live a completely stress-free life, we hope these tips will help you find ways to be at your best.

*Designed to help minimize blood sugar spikes in people with diabetes compared to high-glycemic carbohydrates. Glucerna is the #1 brand recommended by doctors for people with diabetes. Use Glucerna under medical supervision as part of your diabetes management plan.