Heal Your Adrenal Fatigue
Do you ever stop and think, ‘Wow I am EXHAUSTED.’ Not just tired, but exhausted.
Well you’re not alone – it’s become surprisingly common in the modern world – and can be a sign of adrenal fatigue.
I often speak with people who you can see are facing burnout. They are surviving – but not thriving.
They are so tired of waking up tired. They’re busy with kids, busy with work, busy with taking care of their parents, loved ones, they’re always on the go – running here, rushing there – and seem to be able to multitask like a machine! But the body can only take so much. This high functioning ‘busyness’ has an expiry date. If this ‘busyness’ continues without any downtime, then the body will start to whisper at you (in the form of symptoms) and if you don’t listen – it may start to scream.
You may even start to have moments where you don’t feel much like yourself anymore.
You may experience feelings such as extreme overwhelm, susceptibility to infections, anxiety or increased irritability. That’s when you really want to listen, because your body is asking for help. I’ve been there, and so long as major health issues have been ruled out, we don’t have to accept always feeling this way.
We can thrive and regain energy! I know, because I have!
So let’s look at some of the steps that we can take to recover and support your adrenal health
Reflect on what your stress triggers are
By examining your stressors you can see how they make your body react and can start implementing strategies to reduce them. Remember that stress doesn’t always come solely from an emotional place. It can come in other forms such as – imbalanced blood sugar levels, food sensitivities, toxins or infections. Identifying your common stressors is important in reducing symptoms and healing adrenal fatigue. If you’re having difficulty determining your stressors, then click here for a free journal that’ll help you reflect and pinpoint your triggers.
Keep up with self-care (stress reduction) strategies
I talk a lot about self-care and there’s a reason for that – it’s healthy for our whole mind and body (and our adrenals!) There are many studies now that show that stress reduction practices (self-care practices) can help boost mood and support our stress response.
Think yoga (yin yoga in particular is perfect for adrenal fatigue), moderate exercise, listening to music, meditation, mindfulness, gardening or anything that brings stillness and balance into your life.
Depending on your lifestyle this also may involve taking on less or scheduling time for your body to rest and repair.
It may also include saying ‘no’ sometimes. I still struggle with this but I’m getting better at listening to me body. It’s just that I love to help and don’t like disappointing others. I even sometimes find it hard to say no to myself, but it’s important to stop pushing through when you know your body is saying, ‘Enough!’ So there are times when you’ll need to use the ‘no’ word, and slow down to allow space in your life to rest and refuel (please keep reminding me.)
Consider seeing an integrative medicine practitioner or naturopath
Conventional medicine doesn’t generally recognize adrenal fatigue but if you see an integrative doctor or naturopath they can run adrenal testing to help you determine an appropriate course of action.
They can also help to identify vitamin or nutrient deficiencies (such as B12, Vitamin D or Magnesium,) or finding underlying food intolerances or infections, that may be causing an imbalance in your system.
It can be beneficial to work with practitioners that can guide you with getting your system back into a healthy balance.
Consume Healing Foods
One of the best ways that we can support and heal adrenal health is through the foods we eat. What we eat can either heighten our body’s stress response or calm it. Natural whole foods can help manage blood sugar levels, sustain energy and reduce inflammation.
One of the best ways I was able to immediately regain some energy was by balancing my blood sugar levels.
When your body isn’t regulating cortisol properly, it has a harder time controlling blood sugar levels. Spikes in blood sugar can stress the adrenals, so it’s important to try to support your body by managing blood sugar levels through the foods you eat. Even though your body will be reaching for the sugar – reducing white refined sugar and white flours will help eliminate blood sugar spikes that stress adrenals. Healthy fats (like olive oil and avocado) and protein are important for energy and helping to balance hormone levels and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Personally, I used to always face a 3pm slump, where my blood sugar levels would drop and I’d start craving sugary foods and coffee to sustain my energy for the afternoon. One of the immediate lifestyle shifts I made was to start opting for a mid-afternoon snack with healthy fats and protein instead. This kept my blood sugar levels stable and stopped me from becoming ‘hangry!’ At the time I was keeping a health journal and recording my energy levels over the afternoon on a scale from 1-10. By bringing in a healthy snack, I immediately noticed an increase in my energy levels throughout the afternoon that went from a low 2 to a much higher 7.
Ideally eating a healthy snack every 2-3 hours keeps blood sugar levels stable and keeps you from becoming ‘hangry!’
As chronic inflammation can exacerbate adrenal fatigue symptoms, adding anti-inflammatory foods are also an important way to support the adrenals.
If you are able to add anti-inflammatory foods into each meal (and preferably your snacks) then you will be able to support your body continuously throughout the day.
I know this can be hard, but reducing caffeine can also help stressed adrenals.
Caffeine signals to the adrenals to pump out more cortisol and as my naturopath once put it, ‘having coffee is like punching them when they’re down.’
Get adequate sleep
We need sleep to enable our bodies and adrenals to rest, repair and regenerate.
Make sleep a priority and build in the time to rest. Give yourself permission to sleep as long as you are able. Clear out commitments when possible, and make the time to allow your body to rest and recuperate.
To promote quality sleep you can implement a sleep routine, practice relaxation or meditation prior to sleep, cut back on caffeine, create low levels of light & sound and try avoid electronics at bedtime (the backlit light can suppress melatonin levels that signal to your body that it is sleep time.)
When the body is burdened with large doses of toxins on a daily basis, its detoxification ability can become impaired. This overload can result in inflammation which is a stress on the body.
You can begin your healthy home and body detox by switching to natural alternatives as your old ones run out. There are heaps of great natural products on the market now – so it’s much easier to start to make the switch.
Take time in your day to become aware of your breath. Deep, controlled breathing has a profound positive effect on overall stress reduction. It’s the slow breath out that signals to your body when there is no real life-threatening emergency. Mindfulness meditation, and bringing awareness to the moment you’re in, can help calm your stress response.
Get out into nature
I strongly believe sometimes you just have to get outdoors to reduce stress! It feels so natural and relaxing for me to get outside (preferably barefoot) in nature. Research has even shown that being in nature decreases stress and negative moods, and increases positive emotions. Even exposure to a green-space in an urban environment can reduce stress and induce feelings of wellbeing. So next time you feel the build up from the stressors of everyday life – the best immediate therapy can simply be to take yourself into nature. Being in nature is like free therapy you can access at any time!
Although healing takes time, our bodies really do have a remarkable ability to heal when they are given support and commitment.
It’s never too late to begin or to start again. Focus on where you are now and break down your goals into bite size pieces. We want to reduce the overwhelm – so just take one step at a time. Know it’s ok to lean in, ask others for help, and form your own circle of support. You don’t have to do this alone.
I genuinely hope that these strategies will help you on the road to regaining some energy and reducing symptoms of adrenal fatigue.