It’s the Holiday Season - Are your Adrenal’s Paying the Price?
Are you stressed, tired and feeling like you just can’t get out of bed in the morning? Do you have an afternoon energy low that can stop you in your tracks? Well, there could be a reason for these symptoms if you are not sleeping well and experiencing high levels of stress in your life. It’s called Adrenal Fatigue and though most traditional doctors don’t recognize this (yet) there are scientific studies and a group of functional medicine doctors and practitioners that are bringing this science to the public to help patients and clients feel their best.
So, what are the adrenals and what do they do? Your adrenals are little glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They produce the hormones of the “fight or flight” response. These hormones protect us and keep us ready to run away from stress or fight stress off. But when stress is more chronic the adrenals produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol released long term can have some pretty serious side effects on the body. Weight gain, fatigue, blood sugar balance issues, mental health issues, suppressed immune function and cardiovascular issues are just a few symptoms that may come up. But there are some great nutrition and lifestyle habits you can implement today to help get through times of high stress or if you are already dealing with adrenal fatigue these strategies can help you get back to feeling your best.
First and foremost, it’s important to feed yourself right. Cleaning up the foods you fuel your body with will allow your body to perform optimally. When you are stressed your body uses important vitamins and minerals much more quickly so it’s imperative that your stores are replenished. Some of the most important vitamins your body needs for energy are the B-vitamins. B-vitamins can be found in many very nutritious foods like avocados, farm fresh eggs, organic grass-fed meats, dark leafy veggies and whole grains like brown rice. We also use vitamin C very quickly when stress is chronic. Some great sources of vitamin C include the obvious citrus fruits, red, yellow and orange sweet peppers, and acerola cherries.
The second area we need to explore is sleep. When stress is high and cortisol levels are fluctuating it can be hard to fall asleep as well as stay asleep. This, in turn, adds stress and becomes a difficult cycle to break. It’s important to realize that sleep quality is more important than the length of time you sleep. There are techniques you can research to help with this that are proven to help and I highly recommend trying some natural sleep practices before turning to medications as these can balance your circadian rhythm without external chemicals. Some simple tips include making your room as black as possible with black out blinds and unplugging all sources of light in the room, starting to develop a sleep routine that is the same every night to signal your body that it’s time to wind down as well as watching your afternoon and evening intake of caffeine and stimulants so your body isn’t wired when you are trying to relax.
And finally, the last thing I recommend for times of high stress and adrenal fatigue is learning and implementing stress management techniques. One such practice is meditation. There are several methods and lots of ways to learn to do this that cost you little to nothing. I personally love some of the apps that are available on my phone that I have downloaded and can open whenever, where ever I have a few minutes to relax and give my mind a break. I have done a little meditation in my office at lunch and even in the car waiting to pick my children up from school. These don’t have to be long sessions but I do recommend taking at least two twenty minute breaks during your day to refresh your mind with a little meditation.
There are also several supplements that can be added in times of high stress to help. Although I recommend you try the strategies above first, magnesium can be very helpful to relax the body to prepare for sleep. There is also a class of supplements called adaptogens that help reduce cortisol levels if they are too high or raise cortisol levels if they are too low. These are particularly helpful when dealing with adrenal fatigue and fluctuating cortisol levels.
Do you want to get even healthier? Would you like to know more about what nutrition can do to support you in your time of high stress? Let’s chat about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes so that you can reduce stress levels in your life. Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. We work with individuals from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!