Exhaustion. Stress. Pain. Do you feel like you're constantly fighting a battle that not many others understand? Maybe not even yourself? That was me.
After experiencing some back pain, I decided to see our Kinesiologist Heidi to get some understanding around what was going on. It became clear that I had quite a bit of adrenal fatigue or ‘burnout’ going on. I wasn't surprised as she explained what was going on within my body as my stress response was pretty close to deer in headlights on the regular. I was constantly tired, completely reliant on stimulants to do anything and overwhelmed by the smallest task. I had to give up my beloved coffee for a month or two. It took me a little longer to get going in the morning but I had staying power for the rest of the day. I also had to learn how to combat stress. It was hard in the beginning, I won't lie, but it was amazing to see how a little self care and some boundaries made.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Essentially, it is burn out. Adrenal fatigue comes from long-term stress. Stress can be from not having down time or adequate rest, mental overwhelm, trauma and/or environmental stress.
But what and where are our adrenal glands exactly?
Your adrenal glands are two small glands, just above your kidneys. These glands produce and control the stress hormone cortisol. When we push ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically too hard, our body stops producing cortisol properly. That’s when we start to see dips in our mood and energy. If it goes on for too long, we can even start to see thyroid or autoimmune issues starting to develop.
How do you know if this is affecting you as well?
Some of the signs and symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue are;
-mild depression, anxiety and mood swings
-constantly feeling tired and struggling to wake in the morning
-decreased ability to handle stress, inability to relax
-low blood sugar, lightheadedness
-decreased ability to perform daily tasks
-mid afternoon slump
You might notice that a lot of these symptoms are pretty general. This is one of the challenges with adrenal fatigue — imbalanced hormones can affect your entire body so much that it’s hard to find the source. Kinesiology or blood cortisol tests can help. (Although “normal” levels can have a broad swing in the medical community, it doesn't mean that normal is optimal)
Common causes of adrenal fatigue might come from;
-lack of sleep
-working too hard
-too much/not enough exercise
-excessive stimulant use
-periods of constant stress
All of these things stress you out and tax your adrenals.
And you might also notice that these causes are quite general as well, most of us can readily admit we are going through these things on a day to day basis, for extended periods of time until we quite literally get “burnt out” regularly.
Now we know what we’re dealing with, how do we go about treating Adrenal Fatigue?
Rest, rest, rest. What does rest mean to you? Sleep is the obvious answer, but maybe it could mean booking that holiday, quitting a job that's too stressful or starting to get serious about toxic people or events in your life or creating the boundaries you need to protect your energy.
Improve sleep- have good sleep hygiene practises, use a blue light filter screen app on your phone if you must be on it after 8pm. Try not to have a very heavy meal close to bedtime and avoid stimulants.
Get real serious about cleaning up your diet- reduce sugar, alcohol and processed foods that are inflammatory. Increase your intake of good fats, antioxidant vegetables and organic or biodynamic proteins
Adaptogenic herbs and vitamin supplements- there are many herbs such as Rhodiola that are very restorative to the nervous system and vitamins such as B group can be essential to help burn out recovery- see a professional to see which ones are the most appropriate for you.
Self care the shit out of yourself. Massages, yoga, meditation or taking yourself to a movie-whatever makes you feel special and happy. Pretend you're your own date and take yourself out for a special something as often as you can. It's time to start putting you first.
Get out in to Nature and reconnect with her. Do some grounding by spending time sitting or lying on the grass or go to the ocean and enjoy the salty air with some deep breathing.
Whatever you enjoy doing.