Stress hormones & blood sugar spikes
When you’re anxious, angry, or upset, adrenaline and cortisol are released into your blood stream. These stress hormones signal your liver to produce more glucose for a burst of energy, which is meant to help you in a fight or flight situation. If you’re a Type One Diabetic, this means an unexpected blood sugar spike, most likely followed by a crash.
While you can’t (and shouldn’t) always control your emotions, it’s helpful to learn some tools to regain a state of peace and prevent the signal and release of stress hormones.
What if I start to feel anxious?
If you feel your heart start to race and you’re not being chased by a lion, it is important to signal to your body that you are safe, and that you don’t need to fight nor flee from the situation.
One method for bringing your heartbeat back to normal is called box breathing–a technique used by Navy SEALs to reduce anxiety and keep calm. You breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and repeat this cycle until you feel your body start to release tension.
You may be training your body to release stress hormones more often.
Diabetic or not, when you find yourself in a continual state of agitation, your receptor sites for serotonin can actually shrink, and you can become in the habit of constantly releasing adrenaline and cortisol. This can lead to decreased blood sugar control, more sick days, and burnout.
Aromatherapy & More
Your sense of smell is directly connected to your limbic system— the emotional part of your brain that controls your hormone production. This means you immediately feel about a smell often before your brain can even identify the source. When you smell something soothing and are mindful of breathing, you signal to your brain that you are ok, and you definitely don't need a big burst of adrenaline. It's surprisingly powerful.
Lavender essential oil is not only antispasmodic and a muscle relaxant, but the sweet aroma is also powerfully calming. You won’t need to search long on PubMed to find evidence of lavender’s soothing effect on the nervous system and so much more. Try a roll-on lavender oil that’s easy and portable, or buy a bottle to use in a diffuser or apply topically.
Overall, essential oils are super handy and potent–a little goes a long way! Aside from their many household uses (replacing anything from cleaning solutions to perfume that we spray right on our adrenal glands...hello, hormones!) plant oils can help us train our brains.