By now, you have most likely heard someone use the term adrenal fatigue. It seems like everyone you meet is experiencing feeling worn out, burnt out or just straight-up exhausted. Although the term adrenal fatigue is not medically recognized, the symptom-based syndrome holds merit. Stress can be recognized as any physical, physiological, or psychological force that disrupts balance in our body.
What is adrenal fatigue?
Our bodies respond to stress by activating both a nervous system response and in the case of continued stress, the adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands are two glands that sit on top of our kidneys. They are involved in the production of hormones that regulate fight or flight reactions, adrenalin, and noradrenaline. When they are working overtime, the rest of the body will not run optimally and those symptoms can look like extreme fatigue, salt cravings, waking up throughout the night and not being able to get back to sleep, nervousness, irritability, depression, dry skin, digestive issues, weakened immune system and tension headaches.
Now if you are thinking, ”those symptoms sound like what I am experiencing, but I don’t feel super stressed”, keep reading:
Stress may not be the only factor negatively impacting your adrenals.
Some common causes of adrenal fatigue include:
- Stimulants like caffeine cause an epinephrine release (our fight or flight response).
- Diets high in sugar and chronic alcohol intake leads to insulin resistance resulting in unstable blood sugar which taxes the adrenal glands.
- Chronic inflammation, cigarette smoking, fluorescent lights, excessive exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle are also key contributors.
The key to improving your adrenals is hidden in your daily routines. Now that you understand the adrenal fatigue culprits, it’s time to crowd out old habits with new rituals and practices. You might be inclined to immediately stop your morning coffee or after-dinner glass of wine however, this is your year for sustainable habits. Instead of focusing on the things you need to eliminate or restrict, focus on the good things you can add in to your life. The focus should always be on nourishing your body and living a life that you love.
8 Daily Habits to Pamper Your Adrenals
Manage your stress
Stress management is at the core of adrenal fatigue. Assess the primary sources of your stress and find practices that allow you to reset. Make time for hobbies, set boundaries when needed and fill your wellness toolbox. This might mean when you start to feel anxious you take a 5 minute walk or deep breathe.
Wake up at a consistent time daily.
While there are many things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene, one simple practice you can commit to is a consistent sleep pattern. Waking up at the same time daily supports your circadian rhythm and helps your body run efficiently helping with productivity and overall wellbeing.
Start the day with intention
Take a few minutes each morning to be with your thoughts. Whether you meditate, journal, or simply sit quietly, carving time out of each morning to be present sets your day up for success.
Eat first, coffee later
Our blood sugar control is impaired when the first thing our bodies come into contact with is a coffee. Start your morning with some room temperature lemon water followed by a savoury blood sugar friendly breakfast and then have your coffee.
This step is easier said than done especially if you are on a tight schedule but, when possible, bright morning sun exposure provide biological benefits that may help to improve your nighttime sleep patterns.
Aim for daily movement
Mindful daily movement can ease adrenal fatigue and act as a stress releaser but not all movement is created equal. Experiment to see what forms of exercise are leaving you feeling your best- you shouldn’t feel exhausted at the end of your workout.
Eat an adrenal-nourishing diet
Eat the rainbow, stabilize your blood sugar by eating frequent small meals and increase your protein, fibre and water intake. The rule of thumb is, stick to the perimeter of the grocery store and choose foods that will spoil (but eat them before they do!). Our bodies love macro balanced and nutrient rich diets. Foods rich in B vitamins directly affect your adrenals, so eat them often.
Prioritize a bedtime routine
Create a bedtime routine that you love and stick to it. You know the drill, no screens right before bed, a dark room is best and find things to help you wind down whether that be lavender essential oils in your diffuser, a magnesium supplement or reading a few chapters of your book.
When you’re struggling with adrenal fatigue, even the simple tasks seem tough. Committing to even the smallest of lifestyle changes can over time, make a large impact. Life will always be stressful but by building a wellness toolbox, you are equipping yourself with the skills you need to feel your best.
Lessard-Rhead, B., & Whillier, S. (2013). Nutritional pathology. CSNN Publishing.
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