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Stress, whether it’s caused by work, personal relationships, financial issues, or sports, it triggers a physiological response in the body. When stressed, the body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to several effects on blood sugar levels and diabetes management:

The number one affect is increased blood sugar levels.  Stress hormones cause the liver to release more glucose into the bloodstream. This can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, making it challenging for individuals with diabetes to maintain optimal control. Regarding sports Luke must wear his insulin pump during these adrenaline spikes, in this case this is how we manage but for everyday stressors like work sometimes that can be tough. 

Aaron works a stressful job, he’s a police officer and when he was first diagnosed, he was part of the ERT team, which often meant he worked different hours and was always in high stress scenarios. So how did he cope?

  1. Physical activity. His main form of stress management was and still is regular exercise. Moving your body is such a powerful stress reducer and can help improve insulin sensitivity. Establishing a consistent exercise routine can have a positive impact on blood sugar control. Aaron always makes sure he goes in early to work so he can do a workout before. If you don’t have the luxury of a gym membership there are so many YouTube workouts, Instagram accounts or even just getting out and walking. Prioritize physical activity into your day, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health.


  1. Maintain healthy eating habits. When he was working shift work, he always had a cooler, he literally would take a cooler to work, and it was packed with his lunches or dinners and snacks. In the beginning of his diagnosis, he always made sure he labeled each item with the carbs on top of his food container in case he had to grab it and go. Maintaining a balanced diet and avoiding high fat or sugary foods during stress is key.


  1. Let me say it again for everyone in the back – make sure you set aside time to rest. I have to say this is still a work in progress for Aaron but there is progress. Back in the day when he was working shift work it was harder for him to manage his diabetes. Shift work disrupts your circadian rhythm and can lead to irregular eating and sleeping patters, which can negatively affect your blood sugars. Again, this is where it’s important to instill healthy eating habits and regular exercise to improve insulin sensitivity. Now that Aaron doesn’t work shift work, we always try to prioritize sleep. With a teenager this can be hard, so we do our best, but we make sure we are in bed at night by a certain time and try not to be on any devices before bed.


  1. Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques. Practicing mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. I am trying to get Aaron to do more meditations, as it’s helped me immensely with stress management, but mindfulness doesn’t always have to be sitting cross legged for hours. It can be reading a book, going out in nature, or listening to a podcast. Aaron has really gotten into imagery work and is now teaching it to Luke. Basically, find something that relaxes your mind and practise it.


  1. Seek support. Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional, therapist, support group, family member or friend if you’re struggling. I try to support Aaron and Luke as much as I can but let’s be honest, I truly don’t know the daily struggles of being a diabetic. I feel the sadness, anxiety, frustration of being a caregiver or spouse to a diabetic but I don’t know what it’s like to physically live with it. Aaron finds support in talking with his sister, who also is a type 1 diabetic, and Luke has found support in attending events like D camp with Diabetes Canada or attending functions like the JDRF walk where he can meet and socialize with other type one diabetic kids. Find your village.


Bottom line – diabetes sucks. I once read something that said – ever had a job where you had no experience, no training, you weren’t allowed to quit and peoples lives were at stake? That’s parenting a type 1 diabetic. How true is that? Sometimes it feels like we are navigating a storm but hopefully some of our tips can be like little lifelines for anyone out there struggling.  Maybe we can help break the link between stress and diabetes, leading to a happier and healthier life.




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