Every day in practice I see patients who complain of unrelenting fatigue. They wake up unrefreshed, drag themselves through each day, and if given the opportunity could nap in the afternoon. Some patients sleep through their alarm every morning only to hit snooze a half a dozen times and then nurse themselves with coffee all day so that they can function and feel “normal”.
These patients feel unmotivated and irritable. Activities that once gave them pleasure do not anymore and most feel inundated with the slightest amount of stress. It is as if their body’s coping mechanisms are completely exhausted. These patients also have an incredibly hard time losing weight. Even though they may exercise vigorously and eat healthy, they just can’t seem to shed a pound!
Do these symptoms sound familiar? If so, you might have what’s called Adrenal Fatigue.
The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of each kidney and are the body’s main stress responders. The body typically responds to physical and emotional stress by producing adrenal hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol as a coping mechanism. These hormones are then released into the blood and prepare the body for combating perceived dangers by increasing blood pressure, heart rate and by making more energy available for fuel. This is known as the “fight or flight” response. The body then turns the response inward, affecting organ systems such as digestive, nervous, or circulatory just to name a few. When this happens, conditions such as ulcers, headaches, weight gain, atherosclerosis, allergies, asthma, fatigue and insomnia can develop.
The stress response is obviously essential to life because it allows us to handle life’s challenges. However, when we trigger the stress response too often, problems arise as the stress hormones are continuously pumped out and the body becomes depleted and exhausted.
The good news is that there are steps that you can take to optimize your adrenal function to prevent the deteriorating affects of adrenal fatigue.
Top 10 Stress BUSTING tips to support healthy adrenal glands:
- Perspective. You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can change how you react to it. Realistically visualizing the long-term consequences of the situation can help you put things into perspective.
- Learn how to relax. Practicing deep breathing techniques will slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and relax your muscles; neutralizing your body’s response to stress.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise provides the body with an opportunity to burn off accumulated stress hormones as well as serves as one of the most powerful relaxation tools.
- Restore your sleep. Create good sleep hygiene by turning off the TV, computer, or blackberry and establish early bedtime routines to match your body’s hormone rhythm.
- Watch what you eat. Refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods can exacerbate the stress response. Eat plenty of colorful veggies and fruits, whole grains, good fats and free range, hormone and antibiotic free lean proteins. Be sure to include at least 1-2 liters of filtered water daily.
- Balance your hormones. Hormone imbalance itself is a stress on the body. Balancing your hormone levels will help optimize the function of the adrenal, thyroid, and other glands.
- De-clutter. Mess creates confusion, chaos and a sense of loss of power. If your desk/home/car is messy and disorganized, have a good clear out and tidy up. You’ll instantly feel more in control.
- Manage your time. Make a “to-do” list and check off items as you complete them. Prioritize tasks and then work on the most important ones. Delegate less important tasks and schedule extra time for tasks, in case of interruptions.
- Think POSITIVE and DO something you love every day! Don’t get caught up in the chaos that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it is walking in the park, going for tea with a good friend or getting a massage.
- Take AdrenaSense®, an adrenal gland supporting formula with Rhodiola, Suma, Siberian ginseng, Schisandra and Ashwagandha to help reduce stress, improve energy and promote restful sleep. Adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng, Rhodiola, Schisandra, Ashwaganda and Suma are greatly appreciated for a wide variety of actions; to help fight fatigue, reduce the levels of stress hormones circulating in the body, enhance mental and physical performance, and increase the body’s capacity to cope with stress.
I recommend AdrenaSense to patients in my practice suffering from Adrenal Fatigue.
Dr. Marita Schauch BSc ND is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Schauch’s health articles educate the public about health and wellness and have been featured in numerous print media. She currently resides and has her clinical practice in Victoria B.C.