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When you learn how to ease and prevent stress, it can help you take care of your diabetes.

When you're under stress, your body acts like it's under attack. It gets ready to take some kind of action -- either fight or flight. To give your body the energy to run or battle, levels of certain hormones shoot up. These hormones can raise your blood sugar.

Stress can also make you neglect your diabetes care. You might forget to eat right and exercise. You also may forget to check your blood sugar often. And if stress makes you lose sleep, your blood sugar levels may rise.

Keep stress under control to help keep your diabetes under control. Try these ways to do it:

  • Relaxation exercise. Close your eyes while sitting in a comfortable chair or lying down. Starting at your toes, slowly clench one body part at a time. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. Keep going until you've tightened and relaxed every part of your body.
  • Deep breathing. Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Then close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling up your lungs. Hold for a few seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Let all the air out of your lungs like you're letting air out of a balloon. Repeat many times.
  • Music. Music that makes you relax can ease anxiety and depression and lower your blood pressure. Find music that calms you, then put on your headphones and relax. You may want to make playlists of some of your favorite stress-busting songs so you have them ready when you need them. Keep them separate from the workout music that gets you pumped up to exercise.
  • Yoga. Slowly relax into a downward dog pose or warrior's pose. This forces you to focus on your breathing, stretching, and how you place your body. It loosens tight muscles and turns your thoughts away from the stresses in your life. Try taking a yoga class at a gym or local community center. Or, do a yoga routine through an active video game on a system like the Wii. If you don't have time for a full class, even 5 or 10 minutes of yoga posing or breathing can help ease stress.
  • Exercise. Think about what kinds of exercise help you relieve stress. For some people, running and hard-hitting sports push away their worries. For others, taking a quiet walk or bike ride is calming. Exercise doesn't just help you fight stress. It can lower your blood pressure and help you lose any extra pounds -- other great benefits if you have diabetes. Be sure to talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise program. Ask what type of exercise may be best for you.
  • Hobbies. Fight stress by forgetting about it. Lose yourself in a favorite pastime. Try to do something that relaxes you, like reading or painting.