Stress and diabetes

Monday 20th May 2024 | Physical Health Conditions

During Stress Awareness Month we focused on how we can recognise the signs and symptoms of stress and how to manage them. We know that we all feel stressed from time to time but if we’re noticing signs of daily stress, it can make us feel overwhelmed, burnt out and feel unable to cope. You can read our previous blog on how to manage the signs of stress.

Stress is how our mind and bodies react to difficult situations. It can often be short term for example, worrying about giving a presentation at work or we can have longer term stressors including financial or relationship worries.

If we have a physical health condition often stress can increase our symptoms of our physical health. We know that stress can have a significant impact on our blood glucose levels. This happens when our bodies release stress hormones (including adrenaline) to help us “fight” or “flight” in response to a situation. However, adrenaline can make it more difficult for insulin to work properly as our energy is unable to get into our cells meaning our blood sugar (glucose) levels rise.


But….. does diabetes make us stressed?


Diabetes can often cause stress due to:

  • Being newly diagnosed and finding a new way of coping or having lifestyle changes
  • Managing medical appointments
  • The daily management of diabetes
  • Worries about injecting insulin or finger pricking due to fear of needles and/or blood
  • Worries about having a hypo (when our blood sugar is too low)
  • Frustrations of having diabetes can make us feel more stressed
  • We can feel more overwhelmed when we’re stressed & it can be harder to make decisions.


You aren’t alone and it’s completely understandable to feel frustrated, overwhelmed and stressed.


How can I cope with stress?

  • Look after you and treat yourself kindly (we are often our worst critic!)
  • Having a goodnights sleep (including a good routine)
  • Practicing relaxation and mindfulness
  • Gentle exercise e.g. walking the dog or going swimming
  • Ask your diabetes nurse to attend a diabetes education course (get to know others who have the same condition)
  • Talking to friends and family


Our Clinical Director and Specialist Psychological Therapist Sian has first-hand experience of diabetes and has created a separate blog post talking about diabetes, her experiences of being diagnosed and the support that’s helped along the way.