Many individuals, without knowing it, experience adrenal fatigue. Fortunately for you, there are steps you can take to heal adrenal fatigue – but how do you know if you have it? Do you randomly feel tired for no reason, have trouble getting out of bed in the morning (even when you go to bed early), feel overwhelmed or rundown, have a hard time recovering from illnesses or stress, or crave foods that are highly processed (sweet, fatty, and salty)? If yes, then you might be experiencing adrenal fatigue.
The adrenal glands are triangular shaped endocrine glands that are located on top of the kidneys. These glands are mostly responsible for releasing hormones like cortisol and epinephrine and norepinephrine when stressed – in other words, these hormones are involved in the body’s “flight or flight” response.
In this day in age, we are bombarded by situations that release these hormones unbeknownst to our approval, creating an environment where our adrenal glands cannot adequately meet the demands of stress (whether physical, emotional or psychological). These situations range from driving a vehicle in rush-hour traffic, reading and/or watching and/or listening to the news, eating foods that do not serve our higher good, or other emotional crisis’ such as someone close who has recently died, relationship issues between lovers, family or friends. This can also include situations more on the physical plane such as major surgeries.
When there is repeated, constant stress coming into your life, the adrenals struggle to create a homeostatic balance. Adrenal fatigue results when there is an inadequate response to stress, and the adrenals can no longer produce enough regulatory hormones.
Here are some tips to help recover yourself from adrenal fatigue, and get you back on the path to pure, vibrant health and living!
Causes of Adrenal Fatigue
We may feel days, weeks, months, or even years of emotional stress. This can be related to grieving a death or loss of someone through a relationship.
When diet is poor and reliance on processed or frozen foods becomes an every day habit, our adrenal glands have the capability of undergoing self destruct! Many individuals consuming foods that are low in nutritional value are simply not getting the proper nutrients to support the adrenal glands. The adrenals need vitamins A, C, and E as well as the B-complex vitamins and minerals like manganese, zinc, chromium, selenium and other trace elements.
Cooking our food, and eating food that is highly processed reduces the amount of vitamins, minerals and enzymes in the food. Un-noticed allergic reactions to wheat and dairy can also destroy the bacterial flora in our gut and intestines, reducing absorption of nutrients and leading to mis-functioning adrenals.
Chronic inflammation disrupts not only the adrenals, but every other organ in the body. Reducing inflammation by eating proper and stressing less are two key components to helping heal our adrenals. Inflammation in the body is countered in the adrenals by releasing the hormones cortisol and cortisone. When inflammation is chronic, these hormones are consistently elevated, which leads to tired, burnt-out adrenals.
Healing Adrenal Fatigue
Go out and play!
I like to consider exercise as play – that is, if you enjoy what you do. I personally dance (free-form, nia, etc.) and find it to be incredibly healing to my body, physically, mentally and spiritually. Find something you love doing, and get moving! Walk in a forest to connect with nature, skip instead of walk, or turn on your favourite song and start dancing!
Exercise is a wonderful way to help get your adrenals back on track. Remember, that this exercise should not be excessive to the point of reaching “burn out,” but should be executed in a moderate sense to help assist in circulation and oxygenation. Getting into excessive exercise of any type uses up energy and adrenal reserves which individuals with adrenal fatigue cannot afford to lose!
Eating a clean diet is crucial to helping heal the adrenals. Poor nutrition leads to reduced vitamin and mineral levels circulating in the blood and thus prevents the organs, including the adrenal glands, from working properly. Cut out processed, high sugar or highly refined foods! Avoid or completely remove stimulants like caffeine, smoking as well as alcohol. These interfere with hormone processing and can weaken the adrenals.
Instead, eat a whole foods diet, full of raw fruit and vegetables like sprouts, leafy greens, avocados, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, garlic, essential fatty acids like hemp, olive or flax oil. This will increase vitamin and mineral density in the body – in particular, asparagus, turnip greens, spinach, bananas, asparagus and almonds are a wonderful source of B vitamins and potassium which help heal and nourish the adrenals.
Minimize Stress (Meditate & Laugh!)
Reduce stress in your life by learning to forgive, letting go, tuning into a more positive attitude and learning that problems are only problems if you define them as such. Meditating is also another great way to reduce stress levels and feel at peace and ease with situations that arise in your life.
Laughing is a powerful stress-relief medicine. Laughter, believe it or not, enhances our intake of oxygen and stimulates our brain, muscles, heart and lungs. It also increases endorphin release in the brain (a chemical that actually reduces stress!). Stimulation via the heart and circulatory system helps aid in muscle relaxation and an overall sense of relief and relaxed feelings.
When we are constantly stressed, the adrenals are in full-force, pumping out hormones like cortisol to compensate for this consistent “fight-or-flight” mode. Over time, the adrenals will tire out and fail to function properly. Taking control of your stress levels and living life more freely is an excellent way to let go and just be.
Ensure Quality, Long Sleep
With adrenal fatigue comes disrupted sleep. This is because hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are at a constant high and this results in chronic alertness, making it difficult to relax into heavy sleep. Taking time to relax before bed, practicing breathing exercises or meditating, and turning the lights down an hour before sleep can help calm the adrenals and lower cortisol and adrenaline levels.