Nobody (apparently not even the cutest of pups) escapes the challenges of modern life. However, we all react to its demands in very different ways. If you are thinking that the only solution is to forge ahead (double espresso in hand) because you pride yourself a resilient individual, remember that it can ultimately deteriorate your health and cause serious problems.
Maybe you have already noticed that adding to the exhaustion and sleep deprivation are some troublesome external signs such as aging skin, dark circles under the eyes and weight gain around the mid section…to name just a few. Though at times it seems unworkable to step aside and retool your routine in order to avoid stress, there are some meaningful things you can do starting today.
Why am I feeling so tired?
Let me introduce you to two little glands in your body called the adrenal glands. They are responsible for producing essential hormones (including sex hormones and cortisol) and they are designed to help you respond to stressful times in a manner that allows you to cope and stay healthy. They are also known as the suprarenal glands because they come to rest on top of the kidneys. Each of the glands is a mere 2 inches in length and they have two major parts: the cortex and the medulla. Even though they are tiny, they are of vital importance to your wellbeing.
Chronic stress and poor diet over-stimulate these glands by demanding they work overtime. The adrenals are constantly helping you manage all the little insults that life throws at you, even to the point of exhausting themselves. In the end, the glands become so depleted that they are unable to meet even their normal levels of hormonal secretion. At that point they begin to underperform and hypoadrenia sets in. This state of affairs is also known as adrenal fatigue and is quite prevalent among middle age individuals. That is not to say that anyone, at any age can’t succumb to adrenal fatigue. It all depends on your circumstances, your overall health status and your dietary habits. It is fair to say that if you don’t live under a rock chances are your adrenals are clamoring for some TLC right now.
What should I be looking for?
Adrenal fatigue should be suspected as a contributing factor of poor health if:
- You are feeling tired for no discernible reason.
- You have difficulty getting up in the morning after a regular night of sleep.
- You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
- You have difficulty overcoming a singular stress or illness.
- You have strong cravings for salty and sweet foods.
- You are experiencing increased alertness after 6PM.
What can I do about it?
In order to reverse this cycle, it is crucial to fundamentally change some diet and lifestyle patterns. First and foremost, avoid all processed foods and minimize coffee intake. Excess caffeine directly affects the adrenals and subjects them to undue stress. Whenever feasible consume whole, organic foods that don’t contain pesticides or other harmful substances. This kind of whole foods diet will replenish many of the nutrients needed by the adrenals.
Strive to sleep a minimum of eight hours a night and rest as needed during the day. It is very important to keep a routine conducive to relaxation and sufficient nighttime sleep, particularly as bedtime approaches.
Finally, exercise without getting exhausted. Start with gentle walking and move up to more ambitious activities such as biking or light strength training. As you progress in your recovery you will feel more buoyant and better able to recover after any activity. However, remember that you should never exercise in grueling bouts because it will wipe out your adrenal reserves. Easy really does it in this particular scenario.
Support your recovery with some targeted supplements. Vitamin C taken within bowel tolerable limits is crucial for adrenal health, as is a good quality Vitamin B complex with extra B12. When you experience excessive stress it causes cortisol levels to increase, negatively affecting vitamin D absorption.
Supplement this vital nutrient daily and spend just a few minutes outdoors, preferably in the morning or early evening. Magnesium also depletes very quickly under stress and is needed for restful sleep and cardiovascular health. Opt for highly absorbable forms of magnesium such as malate or glycinate and start slow to prevent bowel discomfort. Above all, remember that nothing replaces a solid, healthy diet on your way to adrenal health.
If after implementing these fundamental changes you wish to further speed up your natural ability to heal, you can add to your daily regime some adaptogenic herbs that help curtail the effects of chronic stress. The most widely available are ashwaganda, Siberian ginseng, maca, rhodiola, licorice root, schisandra and astragalus root. Rotate herbal supplements every 6 weeks to ensure their effectiveness over a long period of time. If you require more immediate, short term relief of symptoms such as sleeplessness or anxiety, use nervines like chamomile, valerian or passion flower.
The road to recovery will not be exempt from stress, but you will be better equipped to withstand the pressures of everyday life once you realize that taking care of your adrenal glands is an attainable task that really pays off in the long run.