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Is stress messing with your blood sugar?

Updated: Mar 28

Having diabetes brings a host of daily challenges: monitoring your blood sugar levels, deciding what to eat, juggling medications and more.


It can all be anxiety-inducing — and it can create a cycle that’s difficult to break. Stress and anxiety can increase your blood sugar levels, which can lead to increased stress. This can trigger a release of hormones that causes your blood sugar to climb.


You can stop the cycle.

Try this test to see if stress is taking a toll on your blood sugar:

  • Log your blood sugar levels throughout the day and include how you’re feeling and when you last ate.

  • Do this for up to three months.

  • Share your log with your doctor, who can help you determine if there’s a relationship between your stress levels and your blood sugar.


If stress turns out to be a factor, try these six tips to start bringing it down: 

1. Treat yourself kindly. When you’re stressed, it’s easy to dwell on the negative. Conversations you have with yourself can influence the way you feel. It’s important to practice positive self-talk; for example, instead of beating yourself up mentally over a recent cookie binge, remind yourself of the good choices you made. 

2. Repeat a mantra when you’re feeling anxious. For example, you could say, “I’m fine, everything’s okay.” Repeating meaningful phrases over and over can be calming during stressful times.  

3. Meditate. Declutter your mind by focusing on your breath or a calming image. Over time, meditation can even retrain your brain to react more calmly to stress. Need help getting started? There are lots of mindfulness apps. To access free videos, visit and type “guided meditation” in the search bar. 

4. Move. Physical activity increases endorphins, hormones that are natural mood lifters. Even short walks can boost your mood and help regulate blood sugar levels.

5. Simplify your life. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Keep that in mind when you feel overwhelmed. Start by listing your daily tasks in priority order, then breaking them down into manageable steps. And don’t be afraid to say no to requests from others that could create even more stress. 

6. Ask for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, MNPS offers numerous programs and resources:

  • For help managing your diabetes, check out the Diabetes Resource Guide.

  • The Mental Health Resource Guide provides links to mental health care and resources that can help you manage stress.

  • Schedule an appointment with a behavioral health provider at the MNPS Employee Wellness Center (you'll need a referral from one of our primary care providers). Or book a virtual mental health appointment with a counselor at Synchronous Health (no referral needed).


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