6 Ways to Reduce Stress and Boost Your Immune System While Social Distancing

September 02,2021 |
Woman stretching before her run.

While vaccination rates continue to rise, new COVID-19 variants and breakthrough cases are increasing concern amongst those with chronic conditions. It’s known that the virus affects people differently, but those who have underlying medical conditions are susceptible to serious complications. This is especially true for people living with diabetes. People living with diabetes who contract COVID-19 are more at risk for severe complications, especially diabetic ketoacidosis. Therefore, regardless of vaccination status, many medical professionals are recommending that we continue to practice safe and healthy behaviors like washing our hands, wearing masks, and avoiding close contact with people outside of our household. To help, here are six ways to reduce stress and boost your immune system while social distancing.

Understanding Diabetes and COVID-19

While people living with diabetes aren’t more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population, they are more likely to experience serious complications. This is especially true for people living with diabetes that also have underlying health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetic neuropathy. Some of the biggest risks for complications of COVID-19 in people living with diabetes include diabetic ketoacidosis, pneumonia, dehydration, and high blood sugar levels. Since infections can cause an increase in glucose production, extra insulin would be required for ongoing diabetes management. For more information regarding what to do if you contract COVID-19 and are living with diabetes, talk to your doctor.

Due to the role that high blood sugar plays with COVID-19, people living with diabetes should take precautions to reduce their chance of contracting the virus. If possible, getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to ensure that you don’t experience serious complications. If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to get vaccinated, doing everything you can to stay healthy, boost your immune system, and limit your risk of exposure is recommended.

6 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health and Strengthen Your Immune System

Your immune system helps to protect your body from outside pathogens, bacteria, viruses, and toxins. It’s comprised of phagocytes, which help to attack invader cells and reduce your chance of illness, and antibodies, that protect your body from invading cells. The healthier your body is as a whole, the more efficient your immune system is. There are many things that affect your immune system in positive and negative ways. To help protect yourself from the serious complications associated with COVID-19 and diabetes, you should be proactive about your health and do what you can to boost your immune system. Here are a few ways to start.


  1. Talk to Your Doctor

    Stress is unhealthy and can result in physical changes over time. The hormones that are released from stress can help us address flight-or-fight situations, but they also severely weaken our immune system. Instead of letting fear from misinformation completely ruin your body’s ability to fight infection, talk to your doctor.

    In fact, this should be the first thing you do. Everyone’s body is different and if you’re living with diabetes, you need to understand your unique circumstances. Many people aren’t sure what’s going on, who to believe, and what information to trust. Your doctor will be able to give you unbiased information based on your health. This can help you reduce unnecessary stress, which is one of the biggest causes of weakened immune systems. While it’s still important to understand what’s happening in the world so that you can better prepare yourself, don’t get too hung up on what you can’t change.

    If you’re still feeling stressed or overwhelmed, ask your doctor what you can do to help manage stress in a healthy way. Some great options that you can do while social distancing include meditation, yoga, daily walks, and deep breathing exercises.  


  2. Avoid Unnecessary Social Media

    Social media is another thing that can cause unnecessary levels of stress and anxiety. There are a lot of ways that misinformation can spread and lead to irrational fears, unsubstantiated recommendations, and even hysteria. Try to limit your time on social media and unfollow people who cause stress. Since your overall level of stress is directly related to the strength of your immune system, it’s simply not worth the risk. The same should be said about news stations that cause you stress. If it’s making you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or worrisome, stop consuming it. 


  3. Prioritize Exercise

    Physical exercise is a great way to strengthen your immune system and help you decrease your stress levels. The endorphins that are released after aerobic exercise can help you stay happy, optimistic, and stress free. It even combats depression. Exercise also has a positive effect on diabetes. Exercising helps your body lower the overall amount of glucose in your blood without having to take additional insulin. It can also make the insulin in your body more effective as your cells are more readily available to use glucose. Exercise is, therefore, a great option to minimize stress, maximize your immune system, and manage your diabetes. Rather than heading to your gym, try to do some exercises at home. You can also go for a walk or a run, hike a nearby park, or find a great workout video online. What you do doesn’t necessarily matter, as long as you’re increasing your heart rate and moving your body.


  4. Eat a Healthy Diet

    Your diet has a direct effect on your overall stress levels and the strength of your immune system. Eating a healthy, nutritious diet can help minimize the negative effects that stress has on your body. It can reduce oxidation and inflammation in your cells, help you maintain a healthy weight, and is beneficial for the ongoing management of diabetes and other chronic conditions. When you eat a diet that’s filled with fruits and vegetables, your body’s microbiome is affected and helps improve your overall immune response. Similarly, by avoiding ultra-processed foods, you’ll reduce the chances that you damage your digestive system and surrounding organs.


  5. Manage Your Diabetes

    Living with a chronic condition can cause a lot of stress, which in turn, weakens your immune system. To minimize the negative effects of poorly managed diabetes, it’s essential that you have a plan in place. By making proactive, healthy choices regularly, you’ll reduce your overall stress of worst-case scenarios or potential long-term complications. Talk to your doctor about how to manage your diabetes, make sure that you regularly test your blood glucose levels throughout the day, and administer insulin as needed. You may be able to use a continuous glucose monitor to help track your blood sugar levels without having to perform ongoing finger-sticks.

    In some instances, diabetes distress can occur and cause people living with diabetes to slowly stop taking care of themselves. If you or a loved one begins to show any signs of diabetes distress, seek medical help immediately. 


  6. Avoid Habits That Weaken Your Immune System

Finally, make sure that you avoid habits or activities that will weaken your immune system. This is especially pertinent when it comes to smoking. Smoking compromises the overall equilibrium of your immune system and increases your risk for many disorders. Similarly, you should avoid drinking alcohol in excess as doing so can affect your diabetes and severely hinder your immune system. If you have a sweet tooth, be mindful of how much sugar you consume. It was found that when you consume over 100 grams of sugar per day, your white blood cells’ ability to kill germs is reduced by 40%. Weening yourself off of these unhealthy habits is a great way to proactively protect your health.

Managing your diabetes can seem overwhelming at times, but it’s important to persevere and continue making healthy choices. If you notice any signs of diabetes distress, don’t hesitate to seek help and get the proper treatment. By staying healthy both mentally and physically, you can reduce your stress levels, strengthen your immune system, and decrease your chances of contracting COVID-19 and the associated side effects. If you haven’t been vaccinated, talk to your doctor about your options to help reduce your chances of serious complications. If you notice symptoms of COVID-19, reach out to your doctor immediately and make sure that you continue to check your blood glucose levels regularly.

When looking for the right blood glucose meters or continuous glucose monitoring devices for your lifestyle, Byram Healthcare can help. We work with your insurance provider and doctor to ensure you’re supported from start to finish, maximizing your coverage while minimizing out-of-pocket expenses. For more information and added support on diabetes management, sign up for Byram Healthcare’s Caring Touch At Home Program.