As mentioned, we can eat all the kale in the world yet remain far from well. Stress is actually the ultimate cause of dis-ease in our society. Tough to detect, adrenal fatigue is one of many forms of dis-ease due to stress.
Types of Stress:
1. Physical Stress – accidents, injuries, falls, traumas, poor posture
2. Chemical Stress – from poor nutrition, smoking, drinking alcohol to toxic chemicals and hormones in food, water, personal products, cleaning products to bacterias, viruses, heavy metals; these affect blood sugar levels, hormone levels and much more.
3. Emotional Stress – family tragedy, major illness of a loved one, loss of a loved one, job loss, finances, divorce, strained relations, traumas small and large, negativity loops
When I couldn’t figure out what was going on in my body despite being a life-long athlete and healthy eater with a daily yoga/meditation practice, I had a big huge puzzle to solve. Once I got through the bulk of it, I came to my own conclusion that my adrenal glands were fatiqued. I had been doing all the right things for so long, but the severe stress from simultaneous multiple sources (several times in the span of several years) got the best of me and my adrenals were no longer doing their job. Given the way adrenals work, they were actually working overtime, akin to pressing the gas pedal and the brake at the same time.
Over 80% of us will experience adrenal fatigue multiple times over in our lives. It’s an epidemic that many people have no idea exists. And most often stems from chronic stress which can affect every physiological system in your body including your thyroid and adrenal glands.
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue include, but are not limited to:
lack of energy
waking up feeling unrested
crashing mid-morning or mid-afternoon
becoming “wired” in the evening
decreased ability to handle stress
trouble completing tasks once found easy
lack of interest in sex
increased struggle with PMS and menstrual cycle
weight gain around mid-section
food and environmental allergies
postpartum is often the result of adrenal fatigue as well
Because so many of these symptoms overlap with other issues, adrenal fatigue can be super tough to identify.
The adrenal glands are located directly above each kidney. Their duty is to promote hormones essential to your health including adrenaline and cortisol. It is believed that adrenals stop producing these hormones, when they are fatigued. However, this varies greatly based on any existing health issues such as hormonal imbalances, emotional stress, nutritional deficiencies and environmental factors. So, they actually swing back and forth between producing too much or too little hormones. This fluctuation is what creates fatigue. It is as though the gas pedal and the break pedal are being pressed at the same time… often resulting in what is labeled today as “autoimmune disease”.
The adrenal glands are amazing. They give us the ability to get through challenges such as short-lived stress and highly charged emotional experiences. However, if the stress is chronic, lasting for a long time or constantly recurring, the adrenals will behave erratically and become fatigued. Unfortunately, these days this type of stress is all too common in all realms of life. Under these conditions, not only do the adrenals become fatigued, but the adrenaline emitted specifically becomes acidic and corrosive. Our bodies can handle brief emissions to protect ourselves, but when this quality of adrenaline is constantly flooding our system it can also become damaging to the brain, liver, pancreas, and more.
Questions to ask yourself beyond simply creating awareness of the symptoms listed above:
• Are you addicted to the adrenaline rush of action sports?
• Do you get a rush from meeting every single demand of the day as a working single mother or entrepreneur?
• Are you so into meeting the expectations of your work or family or fans that you skip lunch relying on the high of the “wins” to get you through the day?
• Is what is being asked of you by your boss or even your lifestyle straight up ridiculous?
It took me a long time to figure out what adrenal fatigue was much less truly recover. While everyone is unique, I made a lot of shifts over a long period of time within my already optimally performing self and several years later I am now functioning at the exceptional level within body, mind and the big doozie, emotions/spirit/whateveryouchoosetocallit. While I recently had neurofeedback that still showed high levels of activity in the area of the brain that houses emotional trauma, that information allowed me to at least go easy on myself and better allow huge triggers to pass. Now you know there is something lurking around the next corner that is gonna try to take my flame away, so this is why we move beyond optimization and tweak and turn the levers at every level so that when we get caught off guard - because we will - we are at least somewhat prepared.
Due to a prior health scare, I had already put extra attention on my nutrition, yet tweaked it more to focus on fatigue. I left my career. I took a good chunk of time off even though I felt like I financially could not, which in truth was a very risky move. But everything in my gut told me it was absolutely necessary. I kept one small client in place, dropped into some education, and went surfing – a lot. I shifted some of my yoga practices to more receptive and restorative, I skipped running and walked a lot more.
I took my social life down to almost nothing. I stayed in and rested – a lot. Socializing mostly included seeing friends at daily yoga and maybe grabbing lunch or tea afterwards. I rarely went out at night. I drank almost zero alcohol. I ate as well as I could, but without being neurotic about it. And I ate when I was hungry which resulted in lots of grazing. I listened to my body and tried to give it what it needed. And I went to bed early, rested a lot, and essentially spent a lot of time horizontal. I made art. I studied and read – a lot. I let go of friendships that lacked depth. I let go of all relationships that were out of balance within the individual and regarding how the individual related to me and with me. I lived at the ocean and took full advantage of its healing waters as much as I could. As in getting into the water as often as possible even though it is cold year-round. I put my bare feet on the ground every single day. I finally fully taught myself to surf – something I had wanted to do for years, but with work and life didn’t have the time nor energy to battle the waves nor the people in the waters of Los Angeles.
I felt guilty about all of this which was not helpful. But I did it anyway. This went on for a few years until I began to gain some pep in my step. After all, it had become almost impossible to get out of bed at one point which lasted for months, and this began to occur a few months after I had quit my career. So yeah – LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
It takes copious amounts of self-care to reset one’s system. Yet it is 100% necessary.
These ideas will certainly assist with adrenal fatigue as well as many other chronic issues that more often than not result from other things in life, not just how well you eat, exercise or even meditate.
If any of this rings true for you, by all means get in touch with me. I can provide further offerings towards methods and modalities to continually reset your parasympathetic nervous system so that it finds its way back to naturally accessing the rest and relaxation response. All resulting in overall stress reduction which is likely the primary root cause of your adrenal fatigue. Never feel guilty about self-care. Good luck and please let me know how you’re doing.