Did you know low blood sugar can actually increase your anxiety? It’s true. These two factors share an interesting yet complicated relationship. In this article, we’ll explain their connection, discuss their symptoms, and provide tips to help you prevent low blood sugar and anxiety. You’ll leave feeling informed, prepared, and motivated to make positive changes to your life, both physically and mentally. Let’s dive in.
What Is The Relationship Between Blood Sugar and Anxiety?
The link between blood sugar and anxiety has an interesting connection. Those with diabetes or hypoglycemia experience higher anxiety from managing glucose levels, diet, and health long-term. Moreover, the symptoms share a physiological base. When we’re stressed, our body releases cortisol that either raises or lowers our blood sugar. Additionally, when we experience low blood sugar, our body raises our blood glucose by releasing epinephrine (adrenaline) to normalize what is happening. This, in turn, causes a “fight or flight” response, mirroring the symptoms of anxiety.
15 Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar
Without regularly checking your blood sugar, it will be challenging to identify what you’re experiencing. But here is a list of common symptoms to begin strengthening your awareness;
- Fast heartbeat
- Blurry vision
- Mood changes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Pale skin
- Loss of consciousness
14 Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety is more than a state of stress. It involves consistent worry that can negatively interfere with your life, relationships, and work. And while anxiety may feel different to every person, depending on the anxiety disorder, there are several common symptoms;
- Rapid heart rate
- Shallow and fast breathing
- Increased sweating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive worry
- Panic attacks
- Problems concentrating
- Shakiness or muscle twitching
- Digestive problems
- Cautious behavior
- Avoidance of triggers that cause anxiety
What Causes Low Blood Sugar?
Most people who experience low blood sugar have a subsequent health condition like diabetes. But other causes may affect your blood glucose. Here are the most common.
- Medications: While medications for diabetes manage your blood sugar levels, too high of a dose can cause low blood sugar episodes. Make sure you observe your intake and physical state.
- Diet: Several factors in our diet can affect our blood sugar. For example, intermittent fasting, a diet low in carbohydrates, skipping meals, etc.
- Exercise: Physical activity can lower your blood sugar levels and make you more sensitive to insulin.
8 Tips to Prevent Low Blood Sugar and Anxiety
1. Monitor your blood sugar
If you have diabetes, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels. Yet discuss with your healthcare provider to determine how often you need to do so. For example, you may need to check yours before and after meals, exercise, etc. With a glucometer or continuous glucose monitor, you can discover when your blood sugar levels are falling and what action you need to take to alleviate your health. Additionally, receiving this information will allow you to distinguish between what you’re experiencing, physically and mentally.
2. Eat regularly
Without a doubt, the best way to prevent low blood sugar and anxiety is to eat regular meals. While life and responsibilities may affect your ability to maintain this rule, if you’re vulnerable to either, carry healthy snacks to ensure you’re not skipping meals. And while intermittent fasting is certainly trending, speak with your healthcare provider before undergoing any intentional periods without eating.
3. Maintain a healthy diet
When you do eat, always prioritize healthy meals. Indeed, a diet rich in protein and omega-3 fats will support your blood sugar and anxiety. And while it’s tempting to eat processed foods, especially when life interferes, meal prep during the weekend before the work week to ensure you’re avoiding refined carbohydrates. Yet if you’re struggling to curb those intense sugar cravings, follow these tips to quit sugar and try these easy and healthy diabetic recipes to transform your health – trust us, these meals are equally delicious!
4. Reduce your stress
It shouldn’t be surprising that we gravitate towards external sources to alleviate our internal stress. For example, when we’re upset or sad, we often binge-watch Netflix, emotionally eat, spend money, or drink alcohol to receive relief. But over time, we mask and suppress the problem and harm our physical and emotional health. To avoid this, spend time determining what is causing your stress by journaling and tracking your emotional states, and prioritize positive coping mechanisms such as meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness.
5. Make exercise a habit
We often think of exercise as the gateway to losing weight. And while this is true, exercise provides several more benefits than merely achieving the “ideal” body image. Indeed, it increases our confidence, reduces stress, lowers anxiety, and supports regulating our blood sugar levels. Yet if you’re struggling to adopt exercise as a habit, start slow. You don’t need to run to the gym. Instead, prioritize 30 minutes of walking each day, swimming, or anything that lights up your soul. If you enjoy how you’re moving your body, you’re more likely to stick with it.
6. Increase your mind-body connection
Our physical and mental health are one – they are not separate. When we’re sad, we feel it all over, and when we’re sick, we also experience subsequent emotional changes like depression, stress, etc. And when you spend time increasing your mind-body connection, you can better control anxiety and enhance the overall quality of your life. To start, engage in daily yoga and meditation. Both activities reduce your fight-flight-or-freeze stress response via the vagus nerve and activate your relaxation response. Over time, you’ll increase your awareness, react less, and discover what your body needs.
7. Monitor your self-talk
Everyone has an inner voice that depending on the situation, whispers words of confidence or yells words of criticism. Yet many of us receive the latter more often and experience subsequent intensified anxiety. Therefore, learn how to improve your inner dialogue by pausing the conversation and asking yourself if what you’re thinking holds any merit. At first, this will feel very challenging because, over time, we tend to think habitually without noticing our thoughts. But every moment you think objectively and investigate, you loosen the power of your critic.
8. Receive therapy
Everyone experiences anxiety, but if yours is recurrent and negatively affects your life, it’s worth speaking to a therapist or mental health professional. Working with one consistently will help you identify what is causing your anxiety, how to lower your stress levels, and, if you have a health condition causing low blood sugar, how to manage your symptoms.
While low blood sugar and anxiety have a connection, it’s a bit complicated. For example, the symptoms of low blood sugar mirror anxiety, but due to several factors, including psychological, emotional, and environmental changes. That’s why it’s so important to increase your awareness, discover what factors affect your health, and make the required lifestyle choices to enhance your wellbeing, physically and emotionally.
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