Do you ever wake up in the morning, even after a long night of sleep, only to feel sluggish and wishing you had another few hours to rest?
This is one of many signs of adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is a common condition in our fast paced, stressed out society.
Your adrenal glands are your body’s mechanism for responding to stressful situations. In the olden days, this meant getting chased by a tiger or dealing with severe cold without shelter or proper clothing.
Fortunately for us, tigers and lack of clothing are not problems we deal with on a regular basis.
Unfortunately we have our own modern day tigers, and they chase some of us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Modern Day Tigers that Stress Your Adrenals
- Deadlines at work?
- Juggling kids schedules with your own?
- Worry about the economy?
- A sick parent or child?
- An unreasonable boss?
Whatever it is, the response is similar to a real tiger chasing you. Your adrenal glands step into action and do what they do best…shift you into what is often called “fight/flight mode”, and in scientific terms, “sympathetic nervous system dominance”.
In a hypervigilant adrenal state, your heart rate increases, your respiration quickens, and the blood supply to your brain and vital organs decreases and is sent to your extremities…so you can run away or fight.
In addition, your digestive track activity decreases and the sphincters – the valves between sections of the digestive tract – tighten. This is to protect you from needing to use the bathroom in the middle of running away from or fighting a tiger.
Translate this into modern life. If you find yourself stressed out and worried quite a bit of the time, you increase your risk of indigestion, constipation, gas and bloating, as well as heart and circulation problems due to prolonged increased heart rate.
Oh, and I forgot to mention. In fight/flight mode, your sex drive goes away, too.
Doesn’t help to be having lustful thoughts when you’re trying to get away from that tiger. On a biochemical level, the same chemical molecules that make the adrenal hormone cortisol, which gets elevated under stress, are also needed to make estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, all needed for libido and reproductive function.
Another problem with cortisol is that in excess it can cause damage to your mitochondria, the energy producing mechanisms in each of your cells. Cortisol also damages your hippocampus, the part of your brain that helps with short term memory. Ever walk into a room, only to forget what you went there for? That’s likely because your hippocampus has been impeded by the cortisol you produced when you were stressed out.
Yikes! SO if this is you, what can you do to fix things?
In my over two decades of clinical practice, I’ve seem many cases of adrenal burnout and the damages caused by chronic stress.
Fortunately there are actions you can take reverse the damage and repair your adrenal glands. But if you keep getting stressed out, you’ll be a lot like a hamster on a wheel….working hard but never getting anywhere. Repairing your adrenals and transforming your response to stress take some time and retraining, but the transformations you experience when you do can be miraculous.
Regain Your Energy with These Adrenal Fatigue Tips
1- Learn stress management and stress transformation techniques. One of my favorites is called HeartMath, and uses a combination of deep breathing, focusing on your heart, and feeling appreciation. It completely changed my life.
2- Nourish your adrenals. Did you know that 80% of the vitamin C used in your body is used by your adrenal glands? Excessive stress depletes your vitamin C stores and can lead to allergies, poor wound healing, easy bruising, and increased susceptibility for colds, flu, and other infectious disease? Your adrenals also use lots of B vitamins, especially pantothenic acid and B6. That’s why a lot of B complex formulas are called Stress formulas. Eating a whole foods, high raw, high green diet will ensure you have adequate intake of nutrients to maintain your adrenals when they are brought back to normal; however, when you’re in the mode of recovery, supplementation is often needed. I have created a special program, dedicated to this subject, called CAFE: Correcting Adrenal Fatigue and Exhaustion, which you can join here: Correcting Adrenal Fatigue & Exhaustion
3- Support your body’s detoxification systems by periodic cleansing. Face it, eating on the run, making even occasional poor food choices, and being stressed out impair your liver’s ability to do it’s job of cleansing. One of my favorite ways to cleanse my body is with green smoothies. Even though I eat really healthfully, exercise on a regular basis, and do my Heart Math exercises daily, I’m not perfect. I still get stressed out sometimes, I’m exposed to toxins, and I eat on the run more often than I’d like.
I've prepared more tips to help you regain your energy. Enter your name and email below to access a free copy of my Bedtime & Wake-Up Rituals for Adrenal Support handout.