We all have experienced stress at some point in our lives – emotionally, mentally, as well as physically. And, we all have our own ways of dealing with stress and restoring balance in our daily lives. However, if we’re stressed for long enough, it can lead to adverse health effects due to the body’s response to dealing with stress. So far, evidence suggests that stress can affect most biological functions of the body, including the immune system, digestive system, cognition and heart health . Similarly, there’s also evidence that suggests that stress can impact sugar levels in those suffering from diabetes . Under stress, the body releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which cause an increase in glucose levels. Additionally, these hormones can also interfere with any treatment that you might be taking for controlling diabetes .
Dr Jacob Thomas, MD (Med) DNB(Med) Diabetologist, Physician, Preventive Cardiologist at the Advanced Diabetes Centre, says “Stress does contribute to an increase in blood sugar. However, it cannot raise the blood sugar from 80 gm/dL to 300 gm/dL. Stress might, at most, raise sugar levels by 30-50 gm/dL.” He further emphasises that stress is an important factor that also indirectly contributes to increasing sugar levels. “Stress leads to people ignoring their diet and exercise. Some people skip their medications, don’t monitor their sugar levels and skip follow-up appointments with their doctor when they are stressed. These secondary effects of stress contribute further to a greater rise in blood sugar than stress itself,” he explains.
Stress can originate in multiple settings, and the workplace is an inevitable source. The increasing demands of productivity, poor working conditions, monotonous tasks, lack of recognition or participation are all known factors of increased workplace-related stress . These factors can indirectly lead to those secondary effects in diabetics, which may cause a rise in blood sugar levels. However, with the right management, you can avoid being stressed. Here are some tips that can help you deal with workplace stress.
- Identifying the source of stress – If you know what is causing you stress at work, it will be easier for you to avoid such situations going forward. For example, if you haven’t met a deadline or if your workload has suddenly increased, thereby causing you to be stressed, then speak to your team members and try to find a collective solution to it, so you can avoid it in the future. Also, understand your limitations and don’t take on more than you already have on your plate .
- Effective time management – Apart from managing work-related tasks, you also have to manage your glucose levels, irrespective of the stress level at work. This includes having timely meals and medication. If you don’t manage your work-related tasks, there are chances that you will also be unable to manage your meals, medication and sugar monitoring. So, plan your work effectively to accommodate your health tasks as well.
- Effective problem-solving strategies – Don’t take up anything that you think will affect your health and increase stress. If work pressure increases, discuss it with your employer or your co-workers. Allow them to help you with your workload to eliminate stressful situations.
- Listening to soft, relaxing music – If there are certain tasks at work that don’t need too much mental focus, plug in your earphones and have a quick escape by listening to soft and relaxing music. Make a playlist of your favorite tracks and listen to them once in a while at work to lighten up the mood.
- Let your co-workers and seniors be aware about your condition – If you have diabetes, it is not just your employer who must know about your condition; your co-workers should also be aware of it. They will be able to help you better understand if you are under stress and can help you alleviate it. Further, try to develop a friendly environment by engaging in diverse conversations with your colleagues over lunch.
- Avoid change in work-shifts and erratic working hours – If your work involves a lot of outstation meetings or conference calls that go beyond standard timings, then it is a major concern. As a diabetic individual, this can cause drastic shifts in your daily patterns of eating, sleeping and having medication. Try to avoid taking up work that requires you to change your work shift timings often.
- Get enough sleep – It is important to get a minimum of 6 hours of good sleep. Don’t over-work, as that, in addition to increased stress, is also going to cause sleep disturbances and fluctuate your glucose levels.
- Exercise – According to Dr. Thomas, people who maintain a good level of physical and mental fitness can cope better with stress. Therefore, make sure you incorporate exercise in your daily routine. This applies even to the weekends. “Most people, under the pretext of ‘relaxing’, get up late on weekends, and under the pretext of ‘unwinding’, go out for late evening dinners and generally end up overeating. These two habits should be curtailed. One must get up early even during weekends and holidays for a walk or for exercising for an hour,” he says.
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