Manage Diabetes With Stress Reduction

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on May 11, 2019

If you try different relaxation methods you can learn how to ease and prevent stress. That can help you take care of your health. Stress hormones can raise your blood sugar. When you can take care of stress, you can lower your blood sugar. Plus, with less stress you can have the energy you need to eat right, exercise, and check your blood sugar. Having ways to bust stress can also help you sleep better. That’s great because when you don’t get enough sleep it’s not good for your blood sugar. That can make it rise.

Try these to help keep stress in check and your diabetes under control:

  • Relaxation exercise. Close your eyes while sitting in a comfortable chair or lying down. Starting with 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 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. Relaxing music can ease anxiety and depression and lower your blood pressure. Find music that calms you, then put on your headphones and relax. You can 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 a 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. Consider taking a yoga class at a gym or a 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 a 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. Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise program. Ask what type of exercise might be best for you.
  • Hobbies. Fight stress by forgetting about it. Lose yourself in a favorite pastime. Do something that relaxes you, like reading or painting.
WebMD Medical Reference



Karen Kemmis, physical therapist, exercise physiologist, diabetes educator, spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

American Diabetes Association: "Stress," and "What is Exercise?"

Dartmouth College: "Deep Breathing Exercises."

Beth Israel Medical Center, The Louis Armstrong Department of Musical Therapy.

KidsHealth: "Yoga for Lowering Stress."

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