Reducing Stress

By David Spero | December 5, 2007 10:21 am

Stress is a major contributor to diabetes, as I’ve written about in both of my books[1]. But recently, I’ve been thinking more about what to do about stress. How can we reduce it, and how can we cope with it?

First, what is stress?[2] Stress is our bodies’ reaction to a threat or a challenge. Long ago, it was a physical threat from an enemy or predator. Now, the threats are more often economic or emotional. But our bodies don’t know the difference. They still react by raising blood pressure[3], increasing insulin resistance[4], and making other changes to our chemistry.


All of these are good for running away from a threat, but bad for long-term health. And modern stresses don’t go away in a few minutes, like a hungry predator would. They’re with us 24/7 if we let them be.

Strangely, our bodies can react to good things, like a child’s wedding or a job promotion, with the same reaction as they have to bad things. That’s because good stresses put demands on our bodies, too. Learning to reduce and manage stress is a major part of living well with a chronic condition.

Next week, we’ll get into ways of coping with stress. Today, let’s talk about reducing stress—here are some ideas:

What have been your experiences with stress? What causes it, and what effects does it have on you? What has worked for you in reducing stress? Let us know.

  1. my books:
  2. what is stress?:
  3. raising blood pressure:
  4. insulin resistance:
  5. HbA1c:
  6. therapy:

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David Spero: David Spero has been a nurse for 32 years and has lived with multiple sclerosis for 25 years. He is author of two books: The Art of Getting Well: Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness (Hunter House 2002), and Diabetes: Sugar-coated Crisis – Who Gets It, Who Profits, and How to Stop It (New Society 2006). He writes for Diabetes Self-Management and Arthritis Self-Management magazines. He is a project director with New Health Partnerships: Improving care by Engaging Patients, a project of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

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