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How to Reduce your Stress Levels

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How to Reduce your Stress Levels

Learn how to manage the stress in your life

By Nina Nazor

Stress levels in our daily life can affect our health and even increase blood glucose levels, blood pressure and alter many other processes in our bodies.

What is stress?

Stress is the response of our body to an emergency situation. This response can be generated by happiness, like wining the lottery, or by a sad event like losing someone we love.

Stress also can be acute or chronic. Acute stress happens in a specific time, like when you lose your wallet or when you receive bad news. But when a stressful situation becomes permanent, then we are suffering chronic stress, like when we have conflicts with our family members, friends, or even when we have to deal with diabetes every day.

What happens when we are stressed?

Stress makes our body react and prepare to fight or flee from danger. When this happens, adrenalin (epinephrine), the emergency hormone, is released by the adrenal glands and this causes a cascade of metabolic reactions, including the release of cortisol and glucagon, also called counterregulatory hormones, because they increase blood glucose levels from the breakdown of glycogen, a form of glucose stored in muscles and liver. Those reactions cause in our body the following:

•  Our heart beats faster sending blood to our muscles so they are ready in case we need to fight or run away from the danger. This increases our blood pressure.
•  Since blood flow is diverted to the muscles, our skin turns pale and our digestive tract shuts down operations.
•  The liver then releases the stored glucose into our bloodstream so our muscles can have it available when they need it. This increases blood glucose and triglycerides levels.

This reaction can save our life if we are in a tsunami or an earthquake, but unfortunately stress catches us sitting in our car in the middle of the traffic, or working in our desks, so we don´t have the chance to use all those fuels in our blood and they build up until we use them. Can you see why exercise is so important?

What are the most stressful situations?

Some of the most stressful situations are the death of a loved one or a separation from the couple, as well as having to live with a chronic disease such as diabetes, but also:

•  Losing our job
•  Debts
•  A new job
•  A new member in the family like a baby or the mother in law.
•  Moving
•  Accidents

If you have diabetes, some additional stressors are following your diet, counting carbs, visits to the doctor, checking your glucose levels often, and taking your medications.

Depression and diabetes

It is important to know that people with diabetes have a double risk of developing depression than people without diabetes. Some of the symptoms of depression are not enjoying things anymore, feeling sadness, loneliness, that nobody understands you, hopeless and thinking that dying would be the best.

If you notice that you or someone you love are suffering from depression, please seek medical advice immediately. Depression is a serious condition that must be treated with medications and/or therapy.

How can you control stress?

Exercise. Exercise help us relax, decrease blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
Massage. You can enjoy different kinds of massage, from a spa to a special chair, it helps relax our muscles and increases well being.

Smooth music. Instrumental and smooth music are good options for any moment throughout the day. New age or baroque music, Vivaldi, Bach and Mozart, they all help us relax.

Contact with nature. Walk in the park, hike during the weekend, have a beautiful picture of the ocean or a forest in front of your desk, have fresh flowers in your desk or kitchen, gardening, nature sounds in your bedroom, all are really good tools against stress.

Deep breathing exercises. Using the muscles of your diaphragm to breath deeply and rhythmically, like opera singers do, will help you to feel relaxed and calmed in just 5 minutes.
Yoga or meditation. These ancient disciplines are based on deep breathing and promote great relaxation in our bodies and minds.

Talking with friends and family. Talking about our problems helps us reduce stress levels.
Laugh. The healing power of laughter is one of the most natural ways to enjoy a healthy life. Watch a comedy, call a funny friend or just try to laugh without any reason during 5 minutes and you will see that you'll want to keep laughing all day long.

Hug the people around you. Contact with the people we love is one of the best ways to relax. Hugs, kisses, whatever we can do to stay in physical contact will help not only us, but the others, feel better.

Visualization. Our mind can be the most wonderful instrument if we try to control our negative thoughts and replace them with happy, vivid scenes of nature, kids, or anything that relaxes us. Just by closing our eyes and imagining a blue sky or a wonderful ocean, our brain waves are altered and we get relaxed.

Praying. Faith is one of the greatest tools we have to relax and feel better. If you are a believer, just leave all your troubles in God's hands, start thanking Him for all His blessings and after some minutes, your problems will seem much smaller than before.

In conclusion, controlling stress is easy, just try to make most of this techniques part of your every day life.