April 8, 2024

Can Stress Raise Blood Sugar? | A Guide to Managing Stress and Diabetes

If you suspect stress may be affecting your ability to manage your diabetes, you’re not alone. Medical professionals have looked into possible connections between stress and diabetes since the 17th century. Today, scientific research indicates there may very well be…

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Home / Living with Diabetes / Can Stress Raise Blood Sugar? | A Guide to Managing Stress and Diabetes

If you suspect stress may be affecting your ability to manage your diabetes, you’re not alone. Medical professionals have looked into possible connections between stress and diabetes since the 17th century. Today, scientific research indicates there may very well be a direct link between these two issues. Anyone who’s wondered “can stress and anxiety cause diabetes?” should know that elevated lifetime stress appears to contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes – likely because stress can raise your blood sugar. 

It can be really easy for people to say, “you just need to stress less,” but the fact of the matter is, it’s easier said then done. If you’re concerned about blood sugar spikes, and you suffer from anxiety, you’ll want to keep reading for advice from US MED on the art of managing stress with diabetes.


How are diabetes and stress connected?

When you experience mental stress, your body reacts by activating the “fight-or-flight” response. As part of this response, cortisol and adrenaline are released into your bloodstream, and your respiratory rate increases. These changes can affect your blood glucose level, potentially making diabetes management more difficult. 

Types of stresses

Some amount of stress in life is unavoidable. Still, excessive stress can make things more complicated than they need to be – especially if you have diabetes. A few everyday stressors you may be familiar with include:

  • Traumatic experiences and other life events
  • Encountering hostile behavior and anger
  • Sleeping problems
  • Difficulties at work
  • “Normal” emotional stress
  • Trouble managing diabetes symptoms

When you’re dealing with diabetes and stress/anxiety, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Depression
  • An upset stomach
  • A rapid heartbeat
  • Faster breathing
  • Nervousness

How can stress raise blood sugar?can-stress-raise-blood-sugar

If you have type 2 diabetes, emotional stress will usually cause your blood sugar to increase. That can also happen when people with type 1 diabetes feel stressed. On the other hand, some people managing this condition can instead experience a blood glucose decrease in response to stress.

Furthermore, stress and diabetes can lead people to make unhealthy lifestyle choices like overeating, smoking, excessive drinking, and not getting enough exercise. These choices can cause problems related to blood sugar control, as well.

If you think stress might be indirectly or directly affecting your blood sugar, it’s a good idea to keep a log of when and why you get stressed. By knowing what situations are most likely to make you stressed, you can take steps ahead of time to mitigate these issues – and keep your blood glucose levels in range.

Along with this, you should check your glucose levels regularly. Doing this for a few weeks will make it easier for you to find a pattern. In fact, this could help you find out about stressors you didn’t even know were affecting your mental and physical health.

Tips to reduce stress

To cut down on stress in your life, try these tips for diabetes and stress management:

  • Look on the bright side. Sometimes, living with diabetes can make it hard to see the good in life, but you can still make an effort to do so. Try writing a list of positive things about your family, friends, job, and health.
  • Get physical activity. Exercise isn’t just a great way to control your blood sugar – it can help you improve your mood. Some forms of exercise, such as yoga and tai chi, are especially good at helping people relax while still providing the mental benefits of a good workout.
  • Talk to someone you trust. Keeping your stressors to yourself will make them that much harder to deal with. If you’ve been trying to manage your mental health alone, talking to a friend, family member, counselor, or clergy member could be just what you need.
  • Learn new ways to relax. Meditation is a highly effective way to clear your mind – and reduce stress related to diabetes management. You might also want to learn simple relaxation exercises and deep breathing techniques.
  • Listen to music. Finding the right music to enjoy can help you cut down on anxiety and even reduce your blood pressure (which is especially important for people with diabetes). Just be sure to keep separate playlists for working out and cooling down.
  • Distract yourself with a hobby. Painting, reading, knitting, and other hobbies can help you shift your attention away from the things you’re worried about.
  • Go easier on yourself. It’s all too easy to create unrealistic expectations for yourself. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to say “no” to the things you don’t want or need to do.

How to deal with diabetes-related stressYoga or Therapy May Help reduce stress and help manage blood sugar

When you have diabetes, you don’t just have to contend with “normal” sources of stress like life changes and work. On top of all that, you’ll need to know how to live with the stress that comes with diabetes management.

Diabetes is often associated with anxiety or frustration, which can be caused by difficulties controlling the symptoms of this disease. Without having a plan in place to manage these stressors, you could wind up dealing with diabetes distress. That mental health condition could make it even harder for you to manage your diabetes successfully. 

To cope with diabetes-related stress, it’s wise to explore options such as:

Support groups

Diabetes is a common condition; nearly 40 million people have this disease in America alone. That means you don’t have to deal with diabetes by yourself. Finding a diabetes support group in your area is a simple, smart way to connect to a community of people facing the same challenges you are.


Whether you’re dealing with mental health issues or not, therapy can help you find healthy ways to manage diabetes and stress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical-behavioral therapy are two common forms of therapy. Still, there are many other approaches to therapy out there.

Resources from US MED

Stress and diabetes is a dangerous combination, and anything you can do to reduce the former will make it considerably easier for you to live with the latter. US MED can help you balance taking care of your diabetes and stress management by serving as a reliable place to get the diabetes supplies you need. We carry CGMs, glucose meters, and countless other products – all of which are backed up by our 100-percent satisfaction guarantee. Get your diabetes supplies the stress-free way by exploring our online supply catalog!

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