First, let’s make sure we are all on the same page about what this phenomenon really is.
We’re talking about Adrenal Fatigue.
Even though it’s become a bit of a buzz word that some people don’t like to use – we all know what it is and we can all agree that it’s a problem.
To keep it simple, it’s basically burnout.
And I’d hazard a guess that nearly every single one of us has experienced some level of burnout in our lifetime.
I’ve personally burnt myself out in a very major way at least 2-3 times over my life, that I can recall.
And this is not a good thing to do.
Today our culture glorifies the concept of “busy”.
And we are, most certainly, all very, very busy. Busier than ever before.
So when you’ve pushed it too far, you get worn out and your adrenal glands (the ones that produce the hormones that keep you going during those busy times) – they burn out.
This is adrenal fatigue. This is chronic stress.
And when it’s pushed far enough, you can do some lasting damage to your body, because the adrenal glands do a LOT of important work for us. They don’t just produce stress hormones.
And all of our body systems are interconnected. So dysfunction in one leads to a domino effect. Our nervous system is in overdrive most of the time and we just can’t relax anymore – until we’re forced to. Because – adrenal fatigue.
Or because all of this adrenal fatigue lead us to develop some other terrible, chronic, western-society disease like cardiovascular disease or cancer or autoimmunity.
The symptoms of adrenal fatigue include (but are not limited to these, and you won’t necessarily experience all of these):
- having trouble getting up in the morning, even after a good night’s sleep/going to bed at a reasonable hour;
- feeling very sluggish in the afternoon;
- getting a ‘second wind’ or having more energy after dinner than you did the rest of the day;
- dependent on coffee or other stimulants to get through the day;
- getting sick often/colds lasting longer than usual/having trouble bouncing back from illnesses;
- feeling worn out and overwhelmed;
- feeling blue/depressed;
- having trouble balancing your blood sugar (easily getting “hangry” – that’s angry and hungry if you didn’t already know that);
- craving sugary and/or salty foods with regularity;
- brain fog/hard time concentrating;
- having a hard time losing weight.
But I’m Not Stressed Out
I wanted to add this little section here to remind you that all stress is not bad AND not all stress = negative feelings.
What do I mean by this?
When I point out to clients that the stressors in their life are causing weight gain/inability to lose weight or immune system issues (like getting sick often) or blood sugar issues (like the ‘hangries’), often people tell me: “But I’m not stressed out”.
I want to express that all stress doesn’t mean being “stressed out” (in a negative way).
Leading busy lives, including busy jobs, running a household/taking care of a family and/or others, running around taking care of our lives outside of work and pushing our bodies after work hours at the gym/training for physical events, etc…
THESE ARE ALL STRESSORS.
Being this busy, having this much constant responsibility in our work and personal lives is chronic stress. We don’t have to have a traumatic experience to be stressed out.
It doesn’t mean you’re a stressed-out mess waiting to go postal on someone.
But it does mean you are a normal, busy person navigating this modern world of ours.
There is a lot expected of us – a lot more to cram into our days than ever before.
This often pushes us beyond our realistic limits and puts us into burnout/adrenal fatigue.
What To Do?
There are some simple and effective ways to turn it around before too much damage is done and support your body when you go through times of higher stress or higher output.
- Prioritize time for yourself/self-care; examples: take 30 minutes each night to wind down and read a book, take a bath, do some yoga or meditation – calm your nervous system and get ready for sleep (to ensure a better night’s sleep).
- Learn how to say “no”. Don’t try to do everything. Everyone has their limits. Don’t wait until you are so burnt out that you have a serious illness before saying no and reducing your ‘to do’ list or obligations.
- Eat well so your body gets all of the macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) to deal with stress, detoxify, repair and rebuild (new cells, new tissues).
- Reduce or eliminate sugar, alcohol, recreational drugs and caffeine.
- Move. If you sit at a desk a lot, set an alarm and get up and move every 30 minutes (just do a few jumping jacks – get the blood circulating again). Do some physical activities you love in your off-time (a sport, walking, swimming, yoga, etc).
- Stop doing or reduce physical activities when your body needs rest.
- Get outside for fresh air and a connection to the natural world (it is where we come from, afterall).