So, we all know that stress is terrible for our health. It makes almost any health problem worse. And yet, we all deal with it in our life. We simply can't create a life where stress doesn't exist. So, we must learn to successfully deal with stress and make our bodies more resilient.
Let's talk about what happens when stress crosses the line and becomes something called "Adrenal Fatigue". Our bodies are designed to handle short intense bursts of stress as long as there is a recovery period. The "Fight or Flight" response is what allows us to escape from dangerous or stressful situations. Our heart rate goes up, adrenaline is released, energy is made readily available by an increase in blood sugar. We are ready to run away from danger! But, if we don't have a period of "Resting and Digesting" where we relax and reverse all of those changes, we get caught up in the chronic stress response. If you live like this long enough, you eventually may go on to develop Adrenal fatigue.
I see people all the time who tell me they don't think excessive stress is an issue. However, when we run something called an Adrenal Stress Index test, we see that their bodies are telling a different story. The message their bodies are sending is that they are under stress. We see this in elevated levels of stress hormone initially and then as time goes on, very low levels of this hormone because the body simply can not make it any more. By utilizing some testing, we can find out where someone is on this journey so we know what to do to help.
So, what can you do if you suspect you are dealing with Adrenal fatigue?
1) Analyze your stressors. Is there something you can do differently to relieve stress? It may not be realistic to quit your job or ignore your responsibilities to your family, but can you set healthy boundaries and eliminate things that really don't add value to your life? Be intentional with that and see what changes you can make,
2) Use relaxation techniques to signal your body to relax. Deep breathing, sipping water, meditation, prayer, gratitude, grounding (bare feet in the dirt), exposure to fresh air and sunshine, walking, and yoga are some examples.
3) Encourage a healthy "circadian rhythm". This means working with the natural cycle of sleeping and waking at the right times. Make sure to get to bed by 10 PM. Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Avoid bright lighting after dark and use lamps. Don't sleep with your phones, tablet, computers and TVs in your room. Turn off the technology an hour before bed and relax with some stretching, reading or a bath.
4) Make sure that you are eating in a way the encourages health. This means healthy fats, clean meats (grass fed, pastured, organic), lots of vegetables, some fruits and not a lot of processed grains, oils or sugars. Drinking plenty of clean, purified water is also crucial. Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day.
5) Utilize adaptogen herbs and nutritional supports as needed. Examples of this include Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Ginseng and Licorice (depending on the phase of adrenal fatigue).
6) Investigate if there are root causes of your adrenal issues. Some people tell me they have felt like they have dealt with adrenal fatigue for years or even decades. Perhaps there is an underlying issue like a nutrient deficiency, hormone imbalance or chronic infection like Epstein Barr Virus that is making this issue linger. There are strategies to help you identify these root cause issues so that you can fix the true problem.
I hope this article helps improve your understanding of Adrenal fatigue and gives you a good starting point to help address the issues you may be having. If you would like help on this journey, please free free to click on this link to reach out and schedule a time to chat and see if you would benefit from working together.
To your health,