Diabetes is a metabolic disorder caused by ineffective production or utilization of the hormone insulin. The physical and psychological costs of diabetes can be high. Besides disease-specific symptoms, diabetes can lead to considerable physical, emotional, and social stress. Let’s try to understand diabetes-related distress and learn what you can do to manage it. 

4 ways stress and diabetes affect each other

  1. First of all, living with a chronic illness leaves us overwhelmed. The things we worry about suddenly multiply. Diabetes patients often worry about long-term complications as well as high medical costs. 
  2. However, we are talking about a bidirectional relationship. Stress has also been shown to influence glycaemic control and might act as a precursor to psychological disorders, which can further negatively affect metabolic control.
  3. What’s more, distress can also result in negative health behavior such as smoking and alcohol use, and decreased likelihood of seeking care. Such bad habits might withhold clients from taking the medication regularly or following the treatment plan.
  4. Beyond metabolic control, it is important to remember that stress can also influence the quality of life, arguably as, if not more, important to the individual with diabetes.

As you can see, anxiety spins out of control with a multitude of worries and anxieties. Minimizing the impact of stress in diabetes appears to be important. 

When it’s about our health, it is recommended to practice preventative self-care.  With some precaution, you can mitigate some of the tension in your life and feel even more ready to take on each day, which can be especially important when living with a chronic disease. It is expected to have good and bad times, but you can arm yourself with evidence-based techniques to prepare for a lower point. Here you can read about some techniques you can learn to equip yourself against the negative effects of stress. 


Therapeutic relaxation uses muscle-relaxation techniques to aid in the treatment of emotional tension. By releasing tension in different muscle groups, you help your nervous system unwind as well. Practice autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation to make yourself more resilient to stress!


In biofeedback training, an external monitoring device is used to provide information about one’s physiological state. This way, the person can obtain voluntary control over automatic body functions, such as heart rate or blood pressure. 

Breathing exercises

Breathing techniques can enhance the quality of life and improve sympathetic responses in people with diabetes when combined with traditional treatments. Pranayama (an essential component of Yoga) influences the psychological systems. When practiced under guidance of a trained teacher, breath regulations improve neurocognitive, psychophysiological, respiratory, biochemical, and metabolic functions.

Here you can read more general tips on how to manage stress. If you experience significant distress that impacts your daily life, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance from Willingness health psychologists. In diabetes distress treatment individual-based, longer programs appeared to be more successful. 

Willingness provides health psychology services to help patients with chronic illnesses. Book an appointment here

Roza Sara Somlai is a relaxation coach and Educational Psychology and Counselling student at Eotvos Lorand University. She is currently an intern at Willingness.


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