Stress and Type 1 Diabetes: A Vicious Cycle

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Stress and Type 1 diabetes can create a problematic cycle. While stress doesn't directly cause Type 1 diabetes, it can make managing the condition more challenging.


  • When stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
  • These hormones are meant to give you a burst of energy for the "fight-or-flight" response.
  • But they can also make it harder for your body to use insulin effectively, leading to high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).


  • The constant need to monitor blood sugar levels, adjust insulin intake, and manage diet can be stressful.
  • Dealing with low blood sugar events (hypoglycemia) can be scary.
  • The worry about long-term complications of diabetes can also weigh heavily.


  • Challenge Panicky Thoughts
    Focus on what is happening now and say, "In this moment, I am safe."
  • Act Now
    When your diabetes to-do list feels overwhelming, pick something you can do now and act on it. This could be as simple as checking your blood sugar, taking your insulin, or preparing a healthy meal. By focusing on one task at a time, you can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed and regain a sense of control.
  • Breathe
    Deep, regular breathing helps steady your heart rate and calm your nervous system.
  • Move
    Fifteen minutes of moderate aerobic exercise can prompt your brain to release feel-good hormones.
  • Meditate
    Focusing on images, sounds, specific thoughts, or breathing can de-clutter your mind in minutes.
  • Talk With Family and Friends
    Tell those closest to you how you feel about having diabetes. Be honest about the problems you’re having.
  • Connect With Other People With T1D
    Ask them how they deal with their diabetes and what works for them. They can help you feel less lonely and overwhelmed. You can connect with other people with T1D through local support groups, online forums, or social media communities dedicated to diabetes management.
  • Own Your Choices
    If you've decided to indulge, don't feel guilty about it. You're in control: Adjust your insulin dose, what else you eat, or your exercise regimen to make room for that dessert.
  • You're in control
    Remember, you have the power to make choices that can help you manage your diabetes and stress. You may need to adjust your insulin dose, what else you eat, or your exercise regimen to make room for that dessert. By taking control of these aspects, you can better manage your stress levels and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Make Me Time
    Set aside time in your day to do something you love to do.

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