Getting A Handle On Adrenal Fatigue
Stressed? Tired? Craving sugar? Can’t sleep? (*did you run out of hands to raise?*)
All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can kick our health and wellness right in the crotch. And, since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is a popular theme lately.
Heck, I've mentioned in previous posts that this is something that I have been working on for years!
Your adrenal glands look like walnuts that live on top of both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones.
But what happens when they become “overworked?”
You’ve heard of “adrenaline junkies,” right?
Adrenaline and cortisol are the stress hormones that give you the commonly known adrenaline rush; when you're totally alert and living in the moment. This feeling is known as your body's "fight or flight" response.
Some people (perhaps you?) just love that intense feeling.
The release of hormones in the fight or flight response is your body's normal reaction to stress. Stress can sometimes be positive, like when it helps you swerve and prevent a crash.
After a short time, the flight or flight response dissipates, your body goes back to normal, and all is good.
But what would happen if you felt constant stress? Like all day, every day? Like “chronic” stress?
It wouldn't feel like an awesome (once-in-a-while) "rush," anymore would it?
And what do you think happens to your poor adrenal glands when they’re constantly working?
They’d get tired, right?
DO I HAVE ADRENAL FATIGUE?
When your adrenal glands start getting sick of secreting stress hormones day in and out, you can start getting other symptoms.
Symptoms like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, weight loss or gain, joint pain, sugar cravings, even frequent infections like colds and the flu are signs that your adrenals have been working overtime.
Unfortunately there aren't any medically accepted blood tests for adrenal fatigue. In fact, it's not recognized by most medical professionals until the point when your adrenals are so fatigued they almost stop working. At that point, the official diagnoses of "Adrenal Insufficiency" or "Addison's Disease" may apply.
However, if you do have symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out other conditions. He or she may even be open to discussing adrenal fatigue, or at the very least, wellness strategies that can help to reduce your stress (and symptoms).
And if you have a great Naturopath or TCM Doctor near you, they can do a LOT for adrenal fatigue and even test your hormones throughout the day to see how they are functioning.
WHAT TO DO IF I HAVE THESE SYMPTOMS?
There are many actions you can take to reduce your stress and improve your health and energy levels.
Ideally, if you think stress is starting to burn you out, stress reduction is key. There are tons of ideas how you can reduce your stress. There is the tried and true meditation, walking in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or taking a bath.
As a mom – and as a human in the 21st century – I rarely have time to do.... well any of these. I LOVE simple practices I can do while multi-tasking (sounds counter intuitive, but it works for me). I often diffuse calming essential oils such as lavender. Check it out here.
The car is the ONLY place I am ever alone so I love to use it as an opportunity to curb my stress. I follow Dr. Andrew Weil’s breathing method 2-4 times a day while behind the wheel.
I’ve also started turning off the radio when I am in the car. This might sound crazy to some people but as a mom and a fitness instructor, I often feel overwhelmed with the constant noise. My brain eventually gets so overstimulated that it gives up on finishing and entire thought. The couple minutes of silence are so calming to me.
Of course, I also recommend reducing sugar and processed food intake and eating more fruits and vegetables. Better nutrition can only help your body. So go ahead and do it.
Your adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress. After long-term daily stress, they may get tired.
Adrenal fatigue is a controversial disease that doesn’t have a true diagnostic test, nor specific telltale symptoms.
The most important thing you can do is to get tested to rule out other potential conditions. You can also try stress reduction techniques. And absolutely seek out a Naturopath to help you get your hormones back on track.
STRESS REDUCING LAVENDER BATH SALTS
2 cups epsom salts
10 drops lavender essential oil
As you're running your warm bath water, add ingredients to the tub. Mix until dissolved
Enjoy your stress-reducing bath!
Tip: You can add a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers. Spring is ALMOST here and those lavender bushes are just itching to bloom. Put these beauties to work all year round by drying them and saving them in an airtight container.