Are You Tired of Being Tired? You May be Adrenally Fatigued

Image: Benjamin Combs You drag yourself out of bed after hitting snooze half a dozen times and can’t wait for a sip of that first cup of coffee (yes, caffeine!).

You wish you could nap in the afternoon, and the mere thought of exercise makes you cringe.

Your cravings for sugar, salt, caffeine and more sugar are undeniable.

You feel unmotivated and irritable.

Activities that once gave you pleasure do not anymore, and you feel overwhelmed by even the slightest amount of stress.

It’s as if your body’s coping mechanisms are completely exhausted.

You also have an incredibly hard time losing weight; even though you may exercise vigorously and try to eat healthy, you just can’t seem to shed a pound.

Do these symptoms sound familiar?  If so, you might have what’s called Adrenal Fatigue.


This is your Body on Stress

The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of each kidney, and are the body’s main stress responders. The body typically responds to physical and emotional stress by producing adrenal hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol as a coping mechanism.

These hormones are then released into the blood to prepare the body to combat perceived dangers by increasing blood pressure and heart rate, and by making more energy available for fuel. This is known as the “fight or flight” response.

When there ends up being nothing to fight or fly away from, the body turns the response inward, affecting organ systems such as digestive, nervous, or circulatory to name a few.

When this happens, conditions such as ulcers, headaches, weight gain, allergies, anxiety/depression, fatigue and insomnia can develop.


What is Adrenal Fatigue?

The stress response is obviously essential to life because it allows us to handle life’s challenges.

However, when we trigger the stress response too often, problems arise as the stress hormones are continuously being pumped out. Because our body never gets a break, it becomes depleted and exhausted.

We refer to this as adrenal fatigue because it all starts with the adrenal glands and their response to perceived stress.


How to Deal with Adrenal Fatigue

The good news is that there are steps that you can take to optimize your adrenal function to prevent the deteriorating affects of adrenal fatigue.

So much of managing and treating Adrenal Fatigue (and preventing relapse) is about managing stress: the body responds to all PERCEIVED danger (a.k.a. the stuff going on in our heads is just as damaging as actual threats or problems), stress can be relentless for some of us.

Deal with your stress response, and you're going to have a great big impact on your health.


Top 10 Stress BUSTING tips to Support Healthy Adrenal Glands

1.) Perspective.  You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can change how you react to it. Realistically visualizing the long-term consequences of the situation can help you put things into perspective.

2.) Learn how to relax.  Practicing deep breathing techniques will slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and relax your muscles; neutralizing your body’s response to stress.

3.) Exercise regularly.  Exercise provides the body with an opportunity to burn off accumulated stress hormones, and serves as one of the most powerful relaxation tools.

4.) Restore your sleep.  Create good sleep hygiene by turning off the TV, computer, or cell phone and establish early bedtime routines to match your body’s hormone rhythm.

5.) Watch what you eat.  Refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods can exacerbate the stress response. Eat plenty of colorful veggies and fruits, whole grains, good fats and free range and organic lean proteins. Be sure to include at least 1-2 liters of filtered water daily.

6.) Balance your hormones.  Hormone imbalance itself is a stress on the body. Balancing your hormone levels will help optimize the function of the adrenal, thyroid, and other glands.

For example, try to minimize your exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals such as BPA (found in plastics) or phthalates (found in most conventional beauty products). Check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for more information on what to look for on labels so that you can optimize hormone balance.

7.) Take supplements.  Stress can cause your body to use up nutrients more rapidly, so therefore extra anti-stress vitamins and minerals are needed to support the body. Vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins and magnesium support adrenal function as well as the nervous system during times of stress.

The B vitamins, especially B5 and B6 have active roles in regulating mood and emotional well-being. Deficiencies of B vitamins result in worsening of psychosocial stress and symptoms of depression, irritability, and tiredness. Taking a B complex (50-100 mg) once or twice a day can be helpful.

Adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng, Rhodiola, Cordyceps, Ashwagandha and Suma are greatly appreciated for a wide variety of actions; like fighting fatigue, reducing the levels of stress hormones circulating in the body, enhancing mental and physical performance, and increasing the body’s capacity to cope with stress.

8.) De-clutter.  Mess creates confusion, chaos and a sense of loss of power. If your desk/home/car is messy and disorganized, have a good clear out and tidy up. You’ll instantly feel more in control.

9.) Manage your time.  Make a “to-do” list and check off items as you complete them. Prioritize tasks and then work on the most important ones. Delegate less important tasks and schedule extra time for tasks, in case of interruptions.

10.) Do something you love every day!  Don’t get so caught up in the chaos that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it’s walking in the park, going for tea with a good friend or getting a massage.