Many people have not heard of Adrenal Fatigue, but understanding this condition is important because some experts suggest that 80% of the Western world will be affected by it at some point in their lives.
The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and are responsible for secreting more than 50 different hormones that are essential for life. Among these are adrenaline, cortisol, progesterone and testosterone. Because they regulate so many important hormones, their proper function is critical for many functions essential to life such as producing energy, balancing electrolytes and storing fat.
These glands also help you deal with stress. When you are under stress, the adrenal glands engage many different responses in your body to make it easier for you to handle that stress.
But during periods of intense, prolonged stress or chronic illness, the adrenal glands begin functioning below the level needed to maintain health and well-being in the body. They still function but at less than optimal levels. The result is adrenal fatigue.
Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue:
- Feeling tired for no reason
- Craving salty or sweet snacks
- Morning fatigue
- Mid-afternoon sleepiness
- Increased energy in the late afternoon
- Decreased sex drive
- Mild Depression
- Weight gain, especially around the waist
- Low body temperature
Treatment: Treatment for adrenal fatigue should take a multi-faceted approach with whole-body wellness in mind.
Stress: One of the first things you should do is reduce the stress in your life. This may mean clearing your schedule, reworking some relationships or learning time management skills. In order for your adrenal glands to heal, the demands placed on them should be lightened.
Sleep: Sufficient sleep is also important. The main repair work on your adrenal glands takes place between 10 pm and 1 am. If you are prone to late nights, consider training your body to go to bed earlier. It is also a good idea to reduce or eliminate caffeine from your diet in order to help you sleep more soundly.
Exercise: Adrenal fatigue can also be helped by exercise. Exercise regulates cortisol, relieves depression and increases blood flow. Each of these benefits will contribute to your recovery. Try to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes each day. Yoga is especially helpful in this manner since it teaches breathing and relaxation techniques as well as the physical exercise.
Nutrition: Finally, by decreasing ‘junk’ food as much as possible and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, you can improve your nutrient intake. Sometimes adding supplements to your diet can speed healing of adrenal fatigue, check with your doctor, naturopath, or dietician for advice on this matter.
Emotional Hygiene: We seem to be good at recognizing our physical ailments and seeking treatment, but we tend to ignore or minimize our mental health ailments. However, it is just as important to take care of your emotional health as it is your physical health. Improve your emotional hygiene by truthfully acknowledging your emotional status and, when necessary, seek the support your need.
Remember the first step to any change is awareness. If you think you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue, consider these lifestyle tips as part of your self-care plan in conjunction with working with your health professionals.
*For some helpful information on using yoga to reset the body’s nervous system and decrease stress hormones click here.