Ongoing stressful situations lead to chronic stress which can leave us feeling tired, drained, and lacking the energy we need to get through the day. If you’ve had a full night’s sleep, but you’re still tired, and the thought of going back to bed sounds wonderful, then it might be time to check for adrenal fatigue. True, there may be other conditions with similar symptoms. So you would want to talk with a healthcare practitioner. How would you know that you have symptoms of adrenal fatigue? That’s what this post will discuss further. When we are rebuilding our lives after traumas and losses, we have to on purpose rebuild in many ways, starting with our bodies.
Our bodies were not designed to handle constant stress and traumas. Jesus was always saying not to worry or fret, but instead, to talk to Him and to give Him our cares so we can have peace in our hearts and minds.
Who hasn’t had traumatic events occur in life? We know how stressful things can get. Stress makes our adrenal glands work harder than normal. One stressful, major incident can wear us down and make us tired and emotionally drained. But when several traumatic events occur close together or at the same time, that makes life even harder, sometimes nearly unbearable. What happens is that our adrenal glands have to work overtime because we’re in a survival mode. Our adrenal glands work as if we are trying to escape from a huge lion chasing us. So the adrenal glands are pumping out a stress hormone called cortisol which is designed to give us a turbo charge to get us to safety and away from the charging lion.
What is Cortisol?
Here is a good explanation about cortisol at the Hormone Health Network of the Endocrine Society. According to an explanation on their website, cortisol is a steroid hormone made in our adrenal glands. It is pumped through our bodies during stressful times. As a result, the cortisol increases our heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose, respiration and muscle tension. When cortisol is pumping hard, it temporarily shuts down our digestive and reproductive systems since we don’t need them during a crisis. Think back on some of your highly stressful situations. Do the results of cortisol racing through your body sound familiar to what happened in your body?
Too much cortisol from stressful situations can cause anxiety and depression and can be related to changes in a woman’s menstrual cycle and libido. On the other hand, adrenal insufficiency is a result of low cortisol levels in the body. This condition brings with it mood swings, fatigue, weight loss, skin changes, and muscle loss.
What are Your Lions?
How often do you have to escape from a big lion that’s chasing you? Only once in a great while, right? It’s not supposed to be an hourly or daily thing, but when you’re in a very stressful environment, your body may be responding as if there’s a lion after you all the time. That’s a problem!
Are there any lions in your life right now? Lions might be work-related stress, caring for a loved one who has cancer or a loved one with dementia or other disability, or it might be hormone changes, sleepless nights, financial stress, or unexpectedly losing a job. Any number of combinations might exist at one time. For instance, being involved in an auto accident, that coincides with extra job stress; or an unexpected job loss right after buying a new house; or the untimely death of a loved one followed by a car dying too can quickly turn your life upside down. Maybe it’s something more positive, but still just as life-changing like returning to college to pursue a higher degree, relocating to where the college is located, and having to change jobs. I mention these examples to help you realize what can catapult anybody in a survival mode impacting our adrenal glands and our sleep. These kinds of situations can cause the adrenal glands to go hyper and rev up your cortisol levels.
So whatever lions you’ve identified in your life right now, pause for a minute and think about how you’re coping and what you’re doing to de-stress and help your adrenal glands calm down. Are you taking a quality vitamin C product? What about a stress complex supplement which typically contains a combination of B vitamins to help the body better cope? Vitamin C will help support your adrenal glands, but with ongoing stress the adrenals require extra support. Getting ample magnesium will help the body stay calmer. Herbs like Siberian Ginseng (be careful using this if you have high blood pressure as it may increase it), Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola are all used to help support the adrenals. Your local health food store typically has a variety of products specifically formulated for adrenal support. Find what works best for you even if it takes trying different formulas. A good formula will help you feel calmer and it will also help you to get to sleep and stay asleep at night. You can also use soothing herbal teas to help you relax. One suggestion, if you’re taking B vitamins, you’ll want to take them in the morning or early afternoon so you get the most benefit. Taking them too close to bedtime might keep you awake.
While you may feel too tired to exercise, it’s still important to do it. Walking is great therapy for those who are tired and drained. A brisk, 30 minute walk in the morning will get your day started positively. If you commute to work, then try walking at lunchtime or after work. Pushing yourself to do full-blown, high impact workouts at the gym may be too taxing for someone with adrenal fatigue. So be kind to yourself and be sensitive to what your body can handle each day. You can also do some exercises with free weights or some exercises on a small trampoline (rebounder) at home. The key is to be wise and not to overdo it when your body is already trying to recover from chronic stress.
You can be sure that I’ll be addressing this topic again in the future, because it’s so important and so many people are dealing with it. I would love to hear what you have used to cope with and to recover from chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. Feel free to leave your comments below and I’ll be sure to respond.