Are you prone to stress? If so, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly half of Americans will experience a stress-related disorder at some point in their lives.
Chronic stress is a genuine health hazard. It can cause or exacerbate various physical and mental health conditions, from anxiety to depression to post-traumatic stress disorder.
But have you ever wondered why you might be especially susceptible to stress? Or why you might feel the effects of stress more acutely than other people?
While the reasons for these disparities are still being investigated, one thing is for sure: stress affects everyone differently.
If you’re feeling stressed out, it’s no wonder. In today’s fast-paced world, everyone is always on the go. And while stress can be helpful in some cases, too much of it can have severe consequences for your health.
What Is Stress?
Stress is your body’s physiological response to a stressful situation. It is an important mechanism in your body’s survival response, and it prepares you to deal with threats such as physical or emotional trauma.
The stress response is a complex and adaptive process, so it’s important to remember that not all stress is bad.
The cells in your body can only deal with so much damage before they break down. When the cells are pushed past their limits, they release chemicals that signal other cells to repair the damage. This is how your body recovers from and prepares for stress.
How Does Stress Affect the Brain
The part of your brain that handles stress reactions is the amygdala, located in the limbic system. The amygdala helps you recognize and react to potential threats, both physical and emotional.
When the amygdala senses danger, it triggers the fight-or-flight response, your body’s physical response to stress. The hormones released during this response help your body deal with the threat by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen flow to your muscles.
Your brain also deals with stress through the secretion of stress hormones. These chemicals, released into the bloodstream, travel to the brain to alter your thoughts and feelings.
Types Of Stress :
There are many types of stress, and each one has a unique impact on your health. The three main types of stress are:
Endured Stress – physical stress that you can feel, such as the tension in your muscles when waiting for a test result.
Inclusive Stress – stress that you could feel, but might not be aware of, such as the stress of commuting to work.
Emotional Stress – emotional and mental stress caused by your thoughts and feelings, such as the stress of a difficult decision.
Hidden Stress – stress that you can’t feel but that affects your body’s chemistry, such as the stress of an argument with a spouse or child.
Physical Effects Of Stress and Anxiety
When you experience stress, your body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help your body deal with the threat or stressor.
Adrenaline increases heart rate, blood pressure, and energy levels, while cortisol helps preserve energy stores and suppresses inflammation.
These hormones can have several short-term and long-term effects on your health, including:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Weight gain or loss
- Sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Chest pain
Stress can affect your physical health in many different ways. Your metabolic rate may increase or decrease, depending on the circumstances. Your immune system may become compromised, leaving you more vulnerable to disease. And, of course, prolonged or excessive stress can lead to physical exhaustion.
How Stress Impacts Mental Health
Chronic stress can cause you to become more emotionally reactive and less able to control your feelings. You may also experience feelings of anxiety and depression and a lessening sense of self-worth, which is linked with having low blood sugar.
These effects are most common among people who experience stress at work.
Furthermore, because stress is so intimately linked to our perceived threats, it can also cause you to develop anxiety and depressive disorders that were previously unaffected. This is known as “secondary stress,” and it can be just as damaging as the original stress.
How Does Stress Affect Your Health
Chronic stress can seriously mess with your health. It can cause or exacerbate various physical and mental health conditions, from anxiety to depression to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Some of the most common health problems associated with stress include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
- Impaired immune function
- Poor sleep
- Increased risk of substance abuse
- Reduced athletic performance
- Increased risk of injury
Can Stress Cause High Blood Sugar?
Stress is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes. A 2018 study found that chronic stress led to a considerable increase in blood sugar levels in mice.
The research team divided mice into groups that were either chronically stressed or not. They then gave one group of stressed mice a high-fat diet and put the remaining stressed and non-stressed mice on a healthy diet.
The researchers found that the chronically stressed mice who received the high-fat diet developed type 2 diabetes, while the non-stressed mice who received the high-fat diet did not.
These results suggest that stress can cause blood sugar to rise and change the body’s metabolism, leading to the development of diabetes.
Why Does Stress Cause High Blood Sugar?
Stress can cause high blood sugar. It has to do with your body’s fight-or-flight response. When you’re under stress, your body burns through calories and produces extra glucose, which contributes to a high blood sugar level.
Furthermore, the stress hormones released during a stressful event promote glucose uptake in your muscles and fat storage in your liver.
Signs And Symptoms Of High Blood Sugar Due To Stress
Stress can affect blood sugar. It can raise your blood sugar by either increasing the amount of sugar your body uses or increasing your sensitivity to sugar.
If you’re worried that stress may be causing your high blood sugar, there are a few signs and symptoms to look out for. These include:
- Having to go to the bathroom often
- Extreme thirst
- Feeling very tired
- Blurred vision
- Fruity-smelling breath
- Weight loss despite an increase in appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor.
How To Reduce Your Risk Of Developing Stress-Related High Blood Sugar
The key to reducing your risk of developing stress-related high blood glucose is to relax. Stress hormones increase when you’re under stress, so the more you can reduce this type of stress, the less your risk of developing a high blood sugar response.
Here are some ways to reduce and manage stress:
Reduce The Amount Of Time You Spend On Social Media Sites
Social media sites can produce a high level of stress that affects your blood sugar.
Take Breaks Throughout The Day
When you’re constantly working, it’s difficult to relax and reduce your stress levels. Take a few minutes every hour to step away from your work and relax.
Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or the future. Increasing your level of mindfulness can help you relax and reduce the amount of stress you experience, which can reduce your risk of developing a high blood sugar response to stress.
Taking three deep breaths before starting any task can help you relax and reduce your risk of developing a high blood sugar response to stress.
Talk To Someone About Your Stress
Talking to a friend or family member about your stress can help you feel better.
Seek Professional Medical Advice
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, it may be helpful to speak to a professional who can help you manage your stress.
Eat A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can help your body cope with stress better. Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet, which is helpful for blood sugar control.
Get Enough Sleep
Poor sleep can increase stress levels and make it difficult to cope with stress. Make sure to get enough sleep every night to feel refreshed and ready to face the day.
Stress is a normal and healthy response to difficult circumstances. However, prolonged or excessive stress can cause several health problems, including elevated blood sugar. If you feel like you’re under a lot of stress, try to identify the source of your stress and take steps to manage it accordingly. Reducing your stress level can help you avoid developing stress-related high blood sugar.