Adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, burn out, regardless of what we call it, there are millions of people suffering from similar symptoms. But before we dive into this let’s start with why your adrenals are important and what your adrenal glands are supposed to do throughout a typical day.
The adrenal glands are critical parts of the endocrine system, two nickel-sized glands, just above your kidneys. Adrenals produce and control cortisol, the stress hormone among other important functions.
Your adrenal glands control a staggering list of vital functions in your body. The biggest ones are:
Regulation of other hormones
Balance of electrolytes
When to turn off inflammation
Sleep and waking cycles
So in a typical day cortisol helps us wake up in the morning. It should rise when we rise, giving us energy to begin our day. After that point, it naturally decreases and reaches its lowest point in the evening hours, as shown below. Any sort of stress, such as emotional stress, low blood sugar, or physical stress, can increase the cortisol at any given time.
Now when we look at “adrenal fatigue” It indicates that a person has experienced so much stress, whether physical or emotional, and has secreted so much cortisol over time that their adrenals can no longer keep up with the body’s demands. In people who have adrenal fatigue, you’ll see that their cortisol curve is abnormal, and that their cortisol levels are typically lower than average, resulting in the typical adrenal fatigue symptoms.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include the following:
Afternoon dip in energy
Weakened immune system
Salt and sugar cravings
Low blood pressure
So the obvious first steps would be to reduce your stress! Let’s go down the list:
Put yourself first – as women we don’t do this enough. We give to everyone around us and wonder why we suffer!
Prioritise rest and relaxation – that means making sure nothing comes in the way of your relax time (and sleep).
Do something you love – yoga, massage, meditation, long bath, whatever floats your boat –just do it!
Breathe – just the act of deep breathing from your belly switches off your cortisol response. How amazingly easy is that? You can do that in bed!
Nourish your adrenals – make sure you are targeting nutrients stress is depleting (Vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc).
Balance your blood sugar – avoid refined carbs and sugar! Eat nourishing meals focusing on whole foods, routine is important. Include whole-grains, good quality fruit & veg, nuts, seeds, free range meat, fish and organic dairy products if tolerated.
Limit caffeine and alcohol – both of these increase the burden on your adrenals.
Limit strenuous exercise – if you are low on energy, physical activity can deplete your reserves – try gentle walking or yoga instead and slowly build from there.