Blog Post

Practical Tips for Handling Holiday Stress and Blood Sugar Control

December 23, 2016

Bethany Doak, RN, CDE
Keeping blood sugar controlled on a normal day can seem difficult and even stressful.


Keeping blood sugar controlled on a normal day can seem difficult and even stressful. Add the extra anxiety of holiday planning, travel arrangements, work schedules, holiday parties and gift-giving, and suddenly blood sugar maintenance feels even harder. Stress alone can raise blood sugar levels – and that’s without those sweet holiday treats! Find a sense of calm and good cheer this season with the following helpful tips:

  1. Adjust expectations

No one is perfect. Expecting to eat perfectly, take medicine perfectly and have perfect blood sugar may lead to frustration and disappointment. Relax a little and understand that everyone makes mistakes. Instead of giving in to disappointment, accept grace and move forward – even if it feels like taking two steps forward, one step back most of the time. Remember to celebrate every success!

  1. Take one day at a time

Staying healthy over the long term, requires making daily choices to stay healthy. Unhealthy choices add up over time and any short-term satisfaction gained from unhealthy choices can lead to long-term regret. Break that cycle before it starts and find alternatives to stay satisfied. Instead of reaching for the sweets or comfort food in times of stress, find something that feeds the soul instead – like a conversation with a friend, or a good book and a cup of hot tea (unsweetened or with a sugar-free sweetener, of course).  

  1. Plan ahead

Before encountering those tricky holiday potluck parties or tempting cookie platters, think proactively. Planning ahead can help reduce stress when facing those tough situations. Pack a healthy snack to share instead of sugary or high-carb treats. Eat before the party or special event. Limit indulgences and take medicine appropriately. Decide beforehand what to tell people who ask about these lifestyle changes. Consider all the options and always keep positive goals in mind. If the plan includes indulging a little, prepare for what may happen in the event of a blood sugar spike.

  1. Find support

Keeping blood sugar controlled and making healthy choices can be difficult. Support groups offer the opportunity to confide in others with similar challenges and struggles. Sometimes disappointment can lead to anxiety and even depression, making it difficult to eat well and take medications consistently. Speak to a mental health counselor who can listen and provide help.

About the author

Bethany Doak, RN, is a Certified Diabetes Educator for Freeman Diabetes Education. Having lived with type 1 diabetes since the age of 5, Bethany’s diagnosis inspires her every day to help others live well and take control of their health. Freeman offers a monthly Type 2 Diabetes Support Group and a quarterly Type 1 Diabetes Support Group for those living with diabetes, their families and friends. For more information on diabetes care, visit