Session 9:
Why and How to Manage Stress

Mother and daughter meditating
Causes, signs, and impacts of stress

Welcome back! This week we are going to talk about how to manage stress. Managing stress can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, and YOU CAN manage your stress. It is not beyond control.

Feeling stressed can change your body chemistry in a way that makes you more likely to get diabetes and cause you to act in unhealthy ways.

Let’s start by talking about some causes of stress. There are many things in our lives that can cause stress, such as:

  • Conflict with other people
  • Health problems
  • Money problems
  • New job or baby
  • Not enough time
  • Too many duties
  • Unhappiness with job
  • Vacation
  • Weddings
Barbara’s story

Barbara is 45 years old. She feels pulled in all directions. Her children are still in high school. Her father has bad health problems. Plus, Barbara works full time and is divorced. Barbara’s doctor tells her she’s at risk for type 2 diabetes. He urges her to lose weight by eating well and getting active. Barbara sighs. To her, taking care of herself is just one more thing to do.

When you feel stressed, you may feel angry, annoyed, anxious, confused, impatient, sad, or worried. You may also have an aching head, back, or neck, racing heartbeat, tight muscles, or an upset stomach

To make herself feel better after her doctor visit, Barbara goes home and eats a lot of ice cream.

When you feel stressed, you may:
  • Drink too much alcohol
  • Forget things
  • Put off doing the things you need to
  • Rush around without getting much done
  • Sleep too little, too much, or both
  • Smoke
  • Take too much medicine
  • Work too much


You may also make unhealthy choices about eating or drinking, slack off on fitness goals, or spend too much time watching TV, videos, or using the computer. These behaviors raise your risk of type 2 diabetes. That’s why it’s so important to reduce and cope with stress.

Ways to reduce stress

Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to prevent stress. But there are a couple of things you can do to limit how stress impacts your health and weight. The first is to recognize situations that may cause you stress and plan for how you’ll cope with them. The second is to learn how to say “no” to things you don’t really want or need to do.

Let’s go back to Barbara. A situation that causes her stress is shopping with her kids. They often beg her to buy things. Usually, she caves in to their demands, just to make them stop. This makes Barbara feel stressed. She decides to get better at saying “no.” The next time she goes shopping with her kids, they beg her to buy ice cream. This time, she says “NO!” And she holds firm. She’s so proud of herself!

You might relate to Barbara having a hard time saying no. Spotting situations that cause you stress and learning to say no to things you don’t need or want to do are keys to reducing your stress. Here are some other ways to make your life less stressful:

  • Feel free to ask your friends and family for help. They care about you and want the best for you. And you can help them another time.
  • Be tidy. Keep your things in order.
  • Get enough sleep. Shoot for 7-8 hours per night.
  • Have fun! Make time to do something you enjoy. Go for a walk with a friend, read a book, or watch a video… whatever makes you happy.
  • Just say “no.” Learn how to say no to things you don’t really want or need to do.
  • Know yourself. Know what situations make you feel stressed. Plan how to cope with them.
  • Make a to-do list. Put the most important things on top.
  • Remind yourself. Use notes, calendars, timers – whatever works for you.
  • Set small, doable goals. Divide large goals (like weight loss) into smaller chunks. 
  • Solve problems. When you have a problem, try to solve it promptly. That way, it won’t become a source of stress in your life.
  • Take care of your body and mind. That way, you’ll be more prepared to tackle stressful situations.
A picture of Health Coach Emily smiling for the camera
Reviewed by Emily Matson, MS, RDN​

on July 20, 2020. Emily is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA, and is one of our Brook Experts.