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How stress and burnout affect our Type 1 Diabetes

Edited: 17.04.2024

Johanah Co

HelloType1 Digital Learning and Development Manager, A4D

1. Balancing stress and diabetes

Showing up at life every day brings both joy and stress. Going through life is like going through a circle of different needs, stresses, and pleasures. When combined with Type 1 Diabetes, this makes things even more complicated, and you may need all your strength to get through the storms of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia. Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition that needs to be managed every day. Having a lot of tasks can make you overwhelmed and stress out. Stress can change the level of blood glucose in your blood. It might not be easy to find a balance in your life when you're dealing with both the effects of stress and diabetes.
Taking care of Type 1 Diabetes around the clock can be hard because there are many things to consider, which can cause stress.

2. Keeping stress levels in check and managing blood glucose levels

Stressful elements that affect blood glucose include careful blood glucose management, insulin administration, and meal preparation.
In addition, we have to deal with and balance the demands of life based on the roles we play, and make room for changes. This could include our schoolwork, job, hobbies, relationships, chores around the house, and other duties. To keep your blood glucose level in the recommended range (70-180 mg/dl or 4-10 mmol/L), you need to find a balance between a number of factors.

Food, physical exercise, and unmeasurable factors like stress and hormone levels affect blood glucose levels.Type 1 Diabetes forecasting can be complicated by unmeasurable factors. Sustaining your health needs one to make adjustments and strike a balance among various activities.

3. How stress affects our Type 1 Diabetes

Did you know that stressful situations can raise our blood sugar and cause us to feel burned out? When we are stressed, our bodies naturally respond by releasing adrenaline and cortisol hormones. This is called the "fight or flight" syndrome. This is why too much stress and diabetes don't make for a good combination.
Blood glucose levels may rise temporarily because of these hormones (giving us energy to "fight").

4. Stress and diabetes: What affects blood glucose levels?

  • Changes in eating habits. When someone is stressed, their eating habits might change. They might start eating more or less food than usual, sometimes to extremes. Some people may cope with the effects of stress by eating foods that are high in carbohydrate that can quickly raise their blood glucose level. This is not good for Type 1 Diabetes management.

  • Changes in diabetes routine. Stressful events can make someone with Type 1 Diabetes more likely to forget to take their medications or monitor their blood sugar levels. These factors may contribute to erratic blood glucose levels.

  • Changes in the way you sleep. When someone has to work too much, their normal daily routine may be thrown off. This lack of sleep loss may have an effect on insulin sensitivity and blood glucose level.

  • Changes in activity level. It is possible that you do not have time to work out as much as you used to.
    When we lack physical activity, we may become less sensitive to insulin, meaning more insulin is required to be in the recommended blood glucose range. This may lead to insulin resistance and the blood glucose level that is harder ot manage.

5. Watch out! The progression of stress to burnout

Stressful life with Type 1 Diabetes can cause diabetes distress, depression, and burnout. Here are some helpful approaches in handling diabetes distress and burnout.

  • Pace yourself. Goals for healthy habit change are good. Keep your goals realistic and start slowly. If you want to exercise more, you don't have to train like an athlete right away. If you want to walk 30 minutes a day, start with 10 and build up. Slow but sustainable is fine!

  • Work on one thing at a time. It can be too much to handle everything at once. To lower your level of stress, make a list of things that need to be done and do them one at a time. Reward yourself for what you have accomplished.

  • Talk to other people living with Type 1 Diabetes. You are not alone in living with both stress and diabetes. You can find people who understand what you are going through by joining any diabetes online community like dedoc (www.dedoc.org). Your health care team may know of diabetes clubs or peer support groups that you could join. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with other people who have diabetes might give you ideas on how to deal with your own problems and battles.

Diabetes care is all about taking care of your health as a whole, not just your physical body, but also your mental and emotional state.If you don't take care of your mental health issues, they can get worse together with diabetes. The good news is, we can get better.

6. Living with Stress and Diabetes: Finding strength and encouragement

Taking on life's stresses head-on could mean having to deal with problems that are far greater than anything you have ever faced before. It is best to accept your diabetes and learn how to live with it.

Did you know that some great athletes, leaders, and champions have Type 1 Diabetes but are still able to be successful? These people who have been successful with their lives may view their Type 1 Diabetes as an invisible element that makes them strong, persistent, and determined to get through hard times and failures. Embracing and fully knowing one's condition may be the most important thing that needs to be done. It may not be easy. It can be tough to break the habit of stress, but it's not impossible. Understanding our Type 1 Diabetes will help us better take in the ups and downs of this Type 1 Diabetes journey.

We can better prepare for and deal with difficult situations if we recognise when they will arise. The opportunity to learn and succeed is there. Keep in mind, with the right tools and support, you can find success.

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You are not alone!

There are many people who have the condition.

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