When the adrenal glands are not functioning properly, you can have a condition that is known as adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion. Adrenal fatigue often develops after periods of intense or lengthy physical or emotional stress. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic illness. Your thyroid condition puts you in this category.
The adrenals produce hormones that help to balance your blood sugar, which helps your body to manage energy. When blood sugar drops, the adrenals release hormones that cause blood sugar to rise, which increases energy. The adrenals also release hormones when we’re under stress, Our “fight or flight” response kicks in, helping us to deal with everyday stressors, such as traffic jams, arguments, and work pressures.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion include:
- Excessive fatigue and exhaustion
- Not feeling rested upon waking (you get sufficient hours of sleep, but wake fatigued)
- Overwhelmed by or unable to cope with stressors
- Feeling rundown or overwhelmed
- Craving salty and sweet foods
- Having a lot of energy in the evening when you should be sleeping
- Low stamina, slow to recover from exercise, injury, or illness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor digestion
- Food or environmental allergies
- Consistently low blood pressure
- Extreme sensitivity to cold
According to adrenalfatigue.org “Anyone can experience adrenal fatigue at some time in his or her life.* An illness, a life crisis, or a continuing difficult situation can drain the adrenal resources of even the healthiest person.* However, there are factors that can make you more susceptible to adrenal fatigue.* These include certain lifestyles (poor diet, substance abuse, too little sleep and rest, or too many pressures), chronic illness or repeated infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia, prolonged situations that you feel trapped or helpless in (bad relationships, stressful jobs, poverty, imprisonment), or maternal adrenal fatigue during gestation.*”
Stress Management Tips and Preventing Adrenal Exhaustion
Avoid caffeine from tea, coffee, and all other beverages. It puts your body into overdrive and stimulants put too much strain on your body to perform, thus further depleting your adrenals.
Maintain a healthy diet. Sugar and simple carbohydrates put stress on the adrenal glands due to rapidly shifting blood sugar levels. Vegetables, fruits and proteins, as well as high-fiber carbohydrates, help to keep blood sugar levels more stable, putting less strain on the adrenal glands. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
Get enough sleep. Develop a bedtime routine to increase the chances of a good night’s sleep such as “no screens” an hour before bed. This includes TV, computer, video games and cell phones. These gadgets stimulate the brain and make it tougher to go to sleep. Also, try to go to bed around the same time every night. Keep the room dark and quiet.
Relaxation routine. Would you wait for your car to break down before you take care of it? Of course not! Then why wait for your body to break down before taking care of it? Practicing a relaxation routine on a daily basis helps eliminate and prevent stress. Pick something that suits your personality and stick to it (or mix it up if you get bored). Suggestions: deep breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, meditation, or journaling. Here is a simple breathing exercise: breathe in for the count of five, hold, breathe out for the count of five, repeat. Do this with your mouth closed. You may experience lightheadedness initially but that will go away as you get more practice. I will be posting more stress management tips, and “how to” videos on my website so check back if you are interested.
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