You may have heard the term adrenal fatigue recently and wondered what in the world everyone is talking about. In short, adrenal fatigue is when your adrenal glands can’t keep up with the demands outside stressors place on your mind and body.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for regulating and producing all kinds of hormones that affect a number of different things including: blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, and your fight or flight response.Your adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol, which is a major stress hormone. Cortisol is produced when your body is placed under some kind of stress, which can include major lifestyle changes, low calorie restrictive dieting, overtraining, trauma, injury, and basically all kinds of everyday life things that spring up.
While it’s a good thing to have your cortisol levels elevated at certain points during the day, continually elevated cortisol levels can lead to adrenal fatigue. The constant demands placed on your adrenals to either fight or flight exhausts your adrenals and they can no longer regulate things the way they were designed to.
So, what does adrenal fatigue look like? Here are a few symptoms:
- Constantly feeling tired
- Trouble waking up
- Trouble concentrating
- Moodiness and irritability
- Body aches
- Sugar cravings
- Difficulty sleeping
While there are other symptoms that may be experienced, most people feel extremely tired, hold weight in their midsection, have lots of sugar cravings and experience energy crashes throughout the day.
What causes adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is caused by an overload of stressors for a prolonged amount of time. There are plenty of things that create a stress response in our lives, including:
Stressful life circumstances: death, trauma, overload, relational discord, divorce, traffic, finances and busyness.
Lack of sleep: Sleep is your body’s recovery time. When you aren’t getting enough, you are putting your body under a significant amount of stress.
Poor Diet: Not fueling your body well can cause your body to go into starvation mode, which is a constant state of stress. This is particularly common in women who undereat and overtrain. They are causing their bodies to live in a constant state of stress, and after a while, end up with adrenal fatigue.
Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Pollution: Your body is regularly fighting off the toxins found in everyday life, keeping it in a low level state of stress. When added to some of the other stressors life can bring, this can contribute to adrenal fatigue.
Obviously, there are only so many things you can control, so it’s important to be sure that you are living a lifestyle that optimizes adrenal function. If not, you will go through your days feeling foggy and lethargic!
So, how do you create a lifestyle that optimizes adrenal function?
Ways to solve the problem of adrenal fatigue.
Control your diet. Avoid low calorie diets, and eat to fuel your body efficiently. Do your best to eat as clean as you possibly can to avoid taking in any further toxins. Ensure that you get enough carbs, particularly after a workout. Watch your caffeine, sugar, alcohol and processed food intake. Stay hydrated.
Get plenty of sleep. Most people need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Do your best to get as close to that as possible. Cut down screen time before bed, sleep in a completely dark room, and try a magnesium supplement to aid with better overall sleep.
Reduce stress. There are plenty of life stressors you can’t do anything about. So, learning to cope effectively with stress will go a long way to lowering your cortisol levels. Try yoga, deep breathing, prayer or meditation to enhance your body’s ability to respond to stress.
Avoid overtraining. Cortisol levels increase significantly after 45 minutes of high intensity workouts. So, get off that treadmill and do 30-40 minutes of high intensity training that is more efficient at burning fat and will help you keep those cortisol levels in check. Be sure to work in rest days to give your body time to repair itself.
Practice Gratitude and Stay Positive. Each day, write down a few things you are grateful for. Do your best to keep a positive attitude. Laugh a lot. Don’t hold on to the negativity around you. Stress happens, but your response to it will either keep your cortisol levels elevated or help to lower them. So stay positive and keep moving!
Adrenal fatigue is a common thing that affects women who juggle a lot. We live in a society that glorifies busy, and have stressors thrown at us every day. Doing what you can in terms of food, exercise, sleep and stress management will go a long way in decreasing the likelihood of falling prey to adrenal fatigue.