Managing Holiday Stress and Diabetes

The holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But they can also be packed with stress — especially if you have diabetes. Travel, changing routines and lack of sleep all make it tough to cope.

07 November 2021

Stress affects your blood sugar, making it harder to keep your numbers in check during the holidays.

The good news: you can find ways to manage holiday stress. Here are a few guidelines to help you enjoy the season.

Try to Keep to Your Routine

Your regular routine of testing blood sugar, taking medicine and eating meals is key to managing your diabetes. So try to stick as close to your routine as possible.

  • Use snacks to stay on track. If you can’t eat a meal when you usually do, grab a snack and then eat light once the meal is served.
  • Set alarms for medications and meals. The hustle and bustle can make it hard to remember when you’re supposed to take medicines. Alarms or reminders on your phone can help.
  • Make sure you get your rest. While holiday parties may run late, try to keep your sleep routine normal. Lack of sleep will only add to your stress.

Be Ready for Questions

Friends and family questioning your diet — from “Why won’t you try what I made?” to “Should you be eating that?” — can make holiday meals more stressful than they need to be. These suggestions can help.

  • Prepare for comments ahead of time. Let people know you’re making choices that fit into your diabetes management plan and work for you.
  • Educate. Calmly explain why you’re making the choices you are and why they matter. This can be a good time to dispel common diabetes myths.
  • Know how you want to respond to common questions, such as:
  • “I’m working to see how eating fewer carbs will impact my blood sugar. This is important because high blood sugar negatively impacts my energy, sleep and mood.”
  • “I appreciate the offer, this dish looks wonderful! But eating it might raise my blood sugar too high, and I’m working to carefully manage it this year.”

Use Relaxation Techniques

No matter how hard you try, the craziness of the holidays can still leave you feeling stressed. Find relaxation techniques that help you alleviate it.

  • Exercise. Being active not only helps you manage blood sugar, it’s also great for busting stress.
  • Laugh. Having a good sense of humor helps keep things in perspective and lower your stress levels.
  • Breathe. Deep breathing exercises can reduce stress.
  • Talk to someone. Sharing your feelings with a good friend can help you cope with holiday stress.
  • Do things you love. Take time for things that help you relax and unwind.