What Everybody Ought to Know About Too Much Stress and Your Body

What is stress? Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury, also known as the “fight-or-flight” or stress response. This can manifest as an increase in heart rate, quickened breath, muscle tightness, and rise in blood pressure. (WebMD)

Occasional stress is a part of everyone’s life. Working through and processing stressful events is key to keeping chronic stress at bay. (Healthline)

Some common effects of stress can manifest in different facets of your being. They can be physical, mental, behavioral, or mood based.

Physical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension/pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Upset stomach
  • Sleep problems
  • Low energy
  • Frequent colds/infections
  • Nervousness/shaking
  • Dry mouth/difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw/grinding teeth

Symptoms that can impact your mood include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation/focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Increased irritability/anger
  • Sadness/depression
  • Difficulty relaxing/quieting your mind
  • Low self-esteem

Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often
  • Procrastination

Some cognitive symptoms include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgement
  • Pessimism

The key to managing stress is also to find active management strategies. Inactive strategies such as watching tv or scrolling social media on your phone may seem relaxing at the time but can lead to more stress in the long term. (Mayo Clinic & WebMD)

Some stress management strategies:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques, like deep breathing exercises
  • Set aside time for hobbies
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Take breaks from the news
  • Take breaks from your devices
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Talk to a professional, either your doctor or therapist/counselor
  • Meditation
  • Avoid excess substance use
  • Building community through faith-based organization and activities (MayoClinic & Healthline)

Consequences of ongoing, chronic stress can cause or exacerbate:

  • Mental health problems – depression, anxiety, etc
  • Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, hypertension, stroke, etc
  • Obesity and other eating disorders
  • Menstrual problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin and hair problems – acne, eczema, etc
  • Gastrointestinal problems – gastritis, irritable colon, etc

Too much stress on your body can cause some serious health issues. My sister would get so stressed out she would break out in acne for weeks. One time she was so stressed she gave herself an extra period. Imagine that, being so stressed about whatever it is and giving yourself an extra period in between periods. Three periods in a two month timeframe.

Stress management is so important. It affects your health, your quality of life and can make you so miserable that it causes more stress.

Finding healthy ways to manage and to cope will help lessen the amount of stress in your life. Finding the cause and dealing with it will also lessen the amount of stress in your life.

If you are expressing high amounts of stress and any symptoms listed above, please try to utilize some of the management strategies listed above. If you still feel high amounts of stress, please seek help from a medical professional, there may be underlying medical issues that may be causing your stress.


References

Mayo Clinic
WebMD
Healthline


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Ways to Manage Stress

The Journey: Episode Twenty-Three

SEPTEMBER 13, 2020

So I’m just waiting to get paid so I can get my new insulin. So far the Lantus is just barely working. I think the cinnamon tea really is helping. However, my dog’s health is in trouble and so I’ve had very little sleep in the last couple nights watching her and making sure she isn’t falling over. I’m so tired and I haven’t been able to eat anything that requires being away from her for too long so it’s not very healthy food the last couple of days and I know that it’s taking it’s toll on my diabetes. My blood sugar was high this morning from last night, 160 mg/dL.

I’m definitely not living the life right now. I’m also studying to take my SIE exam, hopefully next month. The SIE is a financial securities exam, it’s the entrance exam for the Series 6 and 63 that I need to take to become fully licensed and able to sell securities. It’s a bit difficult with all this new language to learn. But because of my dog’s health, I’ve put my studies on hold to take care of her.

I’m hoping that when I get securities licensed I can sign people up for retirement accounts and savings accounts so I can make some income that I can use to build up the Young and Diabetic’s sticker inventory. By the way, I’m still taking pre orders for my first 6 stickers. I decided to keep it open a little while longer. If you want to check them out or place an order, you can check out my Instagram page and DM me.

So I had the blood test a week ago and then on Thursday, I had my doctor appointment and thankfully, my high blood pressure the week before was stress related, not health related. My blood pressure was much better at my appointment. My doctor said my liver function was elevated, I’m still not sure what that means. If you know, can you comment below and help a girl out? I have no idea how bad that is, he made it sound like it was bad.

It feels like everything’s kind of coming apart in my life right now and I know everything will be okay but at the same time, I feel like I don’t want to keep doing this. I wish time could stop, everything could stop and I can catch my breath and prepare myself for what’s ahead. Time is moving way too fast right now and yet each second ticks by devastatingly slow. It’s confusing and frustrating all at once.

What are some things I can control?

I can control when and how I take a shower. If Waiemi watches our dog, I can take my time in the shower to take care of myself and today I felt like I needed it.

I can control how much water I drink. I haven’t been very thirsty lately and that’s a really good sign with my diabetes since diabetes can cause dry mouth.

That’s kind of all I feel like I can control in my life right now, but I’m working on this. Mental health is so important and I haven’t paid enough attention to my mental health and with my dog’s health being what it is now, I know I’m going to hit a low soon and I need to prepare myself for it. She’s been the sunlight of my life for the last 16 years. I’m turning 26 next month, she’s been with me for more than half of my life. It’ll break my heart when she’s gone but I know that the last year of her life, she could have been in a worse off place but my husband and I brought her with us when my mom moved and she’s been living a comfortable life for the last year. She’s my baby and I love her so much.

The Journey: Episode Eighteen

AUGUST 10, 2020

So conditions have been unchanged since the last journey update. I went one night without injecting my insulin and the next morning I woke up and my blood glucose was 210 mg/dL. I’m not sure how it would have been if I had taken my insulin that night because we had dinner kind of late that night, after 7pm, and it was pretty carb heavy. But then there’s today. I ate dinner way before 6pm and it wasn’t very carb heavy. When I took my blood glucose at 9am, kind of late because I woke up late, it was 179! So that’s very frustrating.

I think my insulin injections aren’t working as well as they were when I first started taking them. They’re still working thank goodness, but not nearly enough. It’s only a slight change in my numbers between not taking and taking my insulin. So I’m basically paying $99 every two weeks or so for a drug that’s supposed to be helping me, but isn’t.

And that’s another thing. I have Lantus. It’s 5 pens of about 310units each. I’m at 85units now, I can only get three doses from each pen. I don’t use it all the way to 0 because I don’t want to inject myself twice, it’s bad enough doing one each night, plus there are always bubbles no matter how hard I try. I have a coupon card which helps me get my boxes at a discount, I’m not sure what the discount is, but I only pay $99. However, when I tried to fill my prescription on the last week of July, the Pharmacy said if they were to fill it then, I would have to pay full price, but if I waited until next week, it would be $99. Neither of my insurances companies cover my insulin, which completely fucking sucks, so I had to wait, thankfully I had enough left to be able to wait. But now I go through one box in two weeks and I wonder if they’ll be able to fill it at the discounted price. I think I might have to double inject this time just to make it stretch, which doesn’t sound fun at all.

Liliuokalani Park and Gardens – Hilo,HI

My next prescription of Lantus, I’m moving to another pharmacy where it will be hopefully cheaper for me. If not, then I have no idea what to do and I’m screwed. Unless my doctor can give me another insulin which would be a lot better, if it’s cheaper.

Yea the stress of not having enough money to buy my medication and the stress of my medication not working is very…stressful. I’ve been so stressed out lately that I had a breakdown, in front of my boss. Thankfully she was so kind and understanding. We worked out my schedule so I only work one to two hours a day from home and it’s been working a lot so far. I feel less stressed and I’m getting more work done.

I’m looking in to meditation to try and help get my stress levels down on the regular and take time for myself more often. I’ve got a lot of lovely scented candles that I’ve been lighting and it’s been lifting my spirits.

I hope if you’re facing these same hardships in your diabetic journey, that you’ll take some time for yourself. Your mental health is so important and we always forget to take care of ourselves. Go take a nice warm bath. Drink some tea and read your favorite book. Go take a walk outside in the sunshine today. Take some time to slow down and enjoy your life. Even though you have diabetes, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this life you were given. Smile at yourself in the mirror and take a minute to love being you. I love you. I am here for you. We can get through this together. You’ve got this!

Blood Sugar and Mental Health

You may have noticed when your blood sugar is too high or too low, your mood suddenly shifts. I know I certainly have. What I didn’t know was what is the link between blood sugar and mood or mental health.

The usual symptoms of low blood sugar are:

  • confusion
  • aggression and irritability
  • difficulties concentrating
  • hunger
  • difficulty with coordination and decision-making
  • personality or behavior changes

Some symptoms for high blood sugar are:

  • difficulty thinking clearly and quickly
  • feeling nervous
  • feeling tired/low energy

Fluctuations in your blood glucose can result in rapid mood changes. Low blood glucose readings can cause you to be slightly euphoric. The body compounds this pleasant sensation by releasing adrenaline in an attempt to convert any available glycogen in the liver back into glucose to boost levels in the bloodstream.

There have been some links between diabetes and mental health issues. Scientists have identified a mental health condition in diabetics called diabetes distress. It shares some elements with depression, anxiety, and stress. Most diabetics don’t show severe enough signs to be diagnosed as either depressed, anxious, or stressed but these symptoms can still affect our quality of life.

Did you know that 30 to 40 percent of diabetics are diagnosed with anxiety? Did you know 1 in 4 diabetics have depression and that women are more prone to depression than men? 

If you don’t believe the science, believe the experience. I have been going through anxiety, stress and depression related to my diabetes. How does it manifest? I’m stressed and frustrated that my blood sugar still isn’t within range. It’s more consistently out of range than within range. Because of my high numbers I’ve been getting depressed and overwhelmed that I may never get my diabetes under control. The price of my medications has given me anxiety that I may not be able to afford my insulin and diabetes pills and I have a fear of getting in trouble with a low blood sugar incident in public.

All of these things pile up on my mind and overwhelm me every day, but I’m trying to push forward every day. One day at a time, one hour, and one minute every day at a time.

You may also be feeling these things too. Stressed and powerless when trying to control your condition. Believing you’re not doing a good enough job managing your diabetes.

Maybe you’re anxious about going too high or too low and not being able to recognize when you go low causing a social embarrassment or danger while driving or sleeping. Maybe your rigorous insulin regimen and constant glucose checks could interfere with social interaction or employment.

Please remember, managing your mental health is just as important to your overall health as your diabetes treatment plan.

SOME TIPS FOR COPING

  1. Follow your diabetes treatment plan. Especially when it feels overwhelming, keep taking your medications, keep exercising and eating healthy.
  2. Check your blood sugar regularly. Especially when you feel a mood change, then you can see what causes your irritability and you can correct your sugar level accordingly.
  3. Automate your plan. If your trouble is not taking your medication on time (this could cause insulin distress), setup an alarm for your medication.
  4. Plan your meals. Plan out your meals ahead of time, by the ingredients you need when you need them, prep your ingredients ahead of time, and always have a set meal schedule. Eat healthy and regularly to keep your sugars in check.
  5. Seek out help. This is so important. There are so many resources out there for you to utilize. Go to your doctor, find a diabetes educator, go to a diabetes management class, seek out a therapist, keep a strong support network. If you feel like you have no one to talk to that understands you, you can try reaching out to me.

You are not alone in your diabetic journey. You always have someone to talk to. Take care of yourselves today. Remember to love yourself and don’t be too hard on yourself today. Safe journey and blessed be.