The diabetes+stress cycle

Last week my levels were sooo good. I was patting myself on the back for my tight control, which I do have to work hard for.
Then on Saturday I had an event which my body obviously decided was stressful…so last Friday came the rises in sugars. Stubborn rises too…not coming down unless they crash down into a low and then we have that crazy roller coaster happening with delayed adrenaline highs. Argh!
Which then makes me more stressed, because I am planning on TTC next year, more high sugars. Repeat vicious cycle.

I am a self confessed perfectionist too…which does not help when my body has other plans for me in the blood sugar world! I meditate daily to stay on top of stress but we can’t control life! Nor should we.

How do you guys cope with stress? With the unpredictable nature of it oftentime-aside from correcting for the highs?
Any other helpful ways of managing (diabetes OR dealing with the stress) when you find yourself in this loop?

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Hi,have you thought about exercise as a stress reliever?
Just wondering if this might help? Good luck. Nancy


Hello sweetSarah,

I have a different perspective than many. I offer the idea of “control” is a severely misguided mistake. Better terms are mandatory.

Control with diabetes is like walking into a pit filled with boa constrictors. And later wondering why itheyre trying to kill us.

Something this enormous, this haphazard cannot BE controlled. Attempt it, and We spend every waking moment, every breath attempting the impossible. A Better fundamental term is necessary.

Control or its lack is a false pairing. Gotta be a much better idea that that one.

NOW all that said are you using a particular meditation approach, technique, tool to explore this stress, and identifying it set it aside?

I appreciate the intent, but I think we have to be very very careful to not attach emotions to handling our diabetes because that feeds them. A worse cycle than the obsession for lowering whatever numbers. What are the numbers what are the numbers what are the numbers becomes a bad cycle unless we alter components of that…


Thanks Nancy, yes I’m a really active person already :slight_smile: nearly every day I do some form of exercise (yoga, walk dogs, martial arts). It does help immensely doesn’t it! I should do some when I’m in that crazy state.

Stuart, you’re so right. I think this is where I stumble sometimes. Getting too ‘in’ it! I really like your perspective-I’m going to adopt this a little more often when I remember to! Thank you.

Stuart, you are absolutely correct, and yet we still hear all the time from the diabetes control idiots that “there are no brittle diabetics, just diabetics who don’t control their disease.” But in fact, the utterly unpredictable way the subconscious mind chooses to release stress hormones in response to various situations, subtle changes in the speed of digestion, subclinical infections, spontaneously varying degrees of insulin resistance, and ten thousand other influences too subtle to measure make blood sugar levels impossible to master, unless the patient has considerable endogenous insulin production to respond naturally to the demand and even out the bumps. I remember reading a medical text on diabetes once which had the unmitigated gall to say, “In diabetics who choose not to control their blood sugar levels, complications may develop.” “Choose”?!!

I know one diabetic who says every night he has a nightmare, his blood sugar is nearly double normal when he wakes up. What is he supposed to do to ‘control his disease,’ guess what nights he is going to have a nightmare and take extra Humalog before he goes to bed? In my case, sometimes when I deliver a lecture to students, my blood sugar rises by 80 points, and other times, it doesn’t change at all. So what can I do beyond trying to compensate after the fact, by which time a lot of time with hyperglycemia has passed.

And this is exactly why most doctors supervising diabetics are utter and absolute fools who do infinitely more damage than good. They simply don’t understand that blood sugar levels spontaneously fluctuate, so instead they prefer to blame the patient for every upward spike they spot. You try to make this clear to them, and they just smile, pat you, and say, “There, there now.”


Hey seydlitz, sweetSarah:

Any prayer you have a citation for that stunning, jaw-dropping quote?

Hey Sarah -smirk- think of it as a “new kind” of straight punch (sic. diabetic martial arts 303).

My disease predates ALL the technology that currently exists by many decades. Understandably but fundamentally incorrect idea this “control”…

What do you folks have in mind to reduce this stress business everybody has diabetic or not? Deflect it, repurpose it, embrace it… lots of possibilities. Lots of techniques centered around breathing mostly…

What cha thinking in terms of???

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Stress is stress. It comes from all directions…AND how it impacts us is as varied and individual as each of us…I find this a specious debate. I mean, really…

Personally, I have maintained decent numbers through the stresses of deaths of my mother and sister, as well as chronic pain—and Life Happening—by never letting go of my low-carb eating…After so many years, this way of eating is comfortable. I never need to think about it. My beloved family knows all about it…

You need to not only adopt it for yourself, BUT also let everyone around you know that you are!..


Judith, great you’ve been able to manage stress in so many forms with great levels! I do already eat pretty low carb (max 50g/day on average). For me it’s like Seydlitz broke it down though-it’s unpredictable rises. Similarly, when I facilitate groups etc…up it goes, different each time so I worry about sending myself low with too much/too long basal rate. My body seems really sensitive to things. When tracking my levels with CGM there are spikes throughout the week which I can pinpoint exactly what it was not related to food/insulin etc. which is often unpredictable.
It sounds like you’re able to ‘roll with the punches’ (:smile:) as stress hits-what are the tools you use? CGM? Correct as it rises etc? What about sustained insulin resistance from the raised cortisol levels? I’d love any pointers! I think as Stuart has already mentioned, it’s never going to be perfect though is it!

Stuart: I use meditation, and a constant self awareness of where I’m at emotionally/mentally. This has helped me reduce the time of how long the BG stays stubbornly raised. Plus insulin of course!
And my number one is ‘acceptance’. Accepting I’m angry/frustrated etc. The catch with this is once I’ve really nailed that-body relaxes and levels come down really fast. I like the boa constrictor imagery!
I’d really love to hear what others do.

Ha, as you can see I found my way to deeper acceptance from when I first posted. Temp basal on 130% though so half way there!

Button time! I think we all find or are finding our selves every day and as each one is new and unique we all have to learn for our selves how to “deal” with the balance of stress, food and exercise! I for one am in a constant state of stress even as I live a “happy” life. It is very easy to resent anything that wants to walk up and poke us in the chest telling us how we must live our life differently. Its a free world, is-int it? Truth be told Diabetes does not care. Knowledge is power, but its ours to use and share and I think that’s (thankfully) what this site is about! That’s why I am here. I hope the same for you. I also hope we all can get to be better at this. I know it sucks to fall off this wagon. It has been my belief for a long time (since I was first diagnosed) that its easy for a Dr or Nurse to say “you have high blood sugar”. or your a diabetic. Where are they after the fact, in our heads the reality surfaces that we hate or resent the reality that we must change (at least our eating habits or exercise/ life style)? Boy don’t I know how I feel, could it be that different from you?
I do not know if my words have helped but I hope so!

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The real problem with the influence of stress on blood sugar levels is that it is unpredictable. Only the subconscious mind really knows how stressful any situation is going to be in its physiological effects, and it can’t talk – other than through a blood sugar spike or drop. As I said, some lectures I give in the same lecture hall for the same course for the same students cause my blood sugar to shoot up 80 points, while others leave it unchanged, even though I can’t consciously perceive which lectures are stressful and which are not.

Yes that’s exactly it. Thank you.
It can be difficult balancing the management in every day life. I think for me I’m yet to consolidate mentally, they often tell us ‘you can do anything and eat anything with D, dong let it dictate your life’.
Except when I do really pay attention to the little things like prebolusing, carb counting, exercise/work (I have a pretty unstructured physical job), not eating xyz when numbers are off I feel better physically and have more in range numbers.

Ooh looks like I need to simply interweave some of these things to simply become my ‘habits’. It’s only in the last few weeks/months I’ve been really tightening things up…the mental load is like being dx again!

Being able to express this is super helpful already though-that’s half of it isn’t it!


You are so ON Target! I wish I saw this reality the first 40 years living with T1. My CDE and endo shared this same wisdom just recently and it is very freeing! I agree with the need for Meditation/mindfullness practices to see clearly.
FTR, I also eat plant based diet and feel the food .stress component is also huge.

When I’m getting those stubborn highs from whatever cause, I increase correction boluses to target the lower end of my target range. My endo complains about over riding the pump/CGM if she doesn’t like my BGs. A better active insulin function for my Medtronics pump/CGM would help. I’ve tracked active insulin once and it was linear.

Control is like herding cats. You can influence the way cats act but you cannot force them into anything. You can influence the way your BG acts but you cannot force it to behave.


Wow! Very excited to have found this chat - first time ever. I’ve been struggling quite a bit recently and am feeling tremendously enlightened!!
Been also dealing with alotta malfunctions and delivery issues, which compound the stress, I would be a basket case if it weren’t for yoga. I also use breathing for my anxiety, along with lemon balm (melisse) herbal tea and a valerian herbal mix tablets. I’m very active and need to slow down. I’m from the US living in the Italian part of Switzerland

I’m 66 (don’t look it) type 1 for 52yr, been doing yoga daily for over 40 yr; and talk about my diabetes being a ‘positive life force’ cuz I would’nt have learned to take care of my body so early otherwise, tho I am a wino, and do splurge on sweets. No complications. I have a medtronic minimed CGM and 640G pump (not available in the US yet?- it actually stops your basal autumatically when you approach your lower limit- amazing!! ). I love my pump but sometimes I. want to throw everything out the window. Then I take a break from the CGM- only lasts a day or maybe a few, but then I always come back!k