If we live a high-stress, fast-paced lifestyle, or live our lives on an emotional rollercoaster, it can take a toll on our body. In the last one hundred years or so our way of living has taken a radical change but in terms of evolution, this is just a tiny speck of time, so biologically our body has not yet had a chance to evolve to cope with our modern lifestyle. To our body, any kind of stress, be it because we’re in immediate danger or simply feeling financial, relationship or work pressures, is interpreted as a direct threat to our life. This is because we are primarily wired for survival, and historically the stressors we faced typically were life threatening, so it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Dr Libby Weaver author of Women’s Wellness Wisdom shares her guide for signs of adrenal fatigue.
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The body’s protective mechanism is to fire off stress hormones, namely adrenalin and cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands. Adrenalin is our short-term stress hormone, designed to get you out of danger, and cortisol is our long-term stress hormone. If we’re living life at a million miles an hour, rushing around trying to get through our endless to-do list and feeling as though we’re not getting anywhere, our adrenal glands can get a walloping.
Only the size of a walnut, these mighty glands – you have two – are part of your endocrine system and they sit just on top of your kidneys. They produce an array of hormones (chemical messengers), which include adrenalin and cortisol, sex hormones such as progesterone, and hormones that help control blood pressure, fluid balance and salt retention in the body—just to name a few.
If the stress response doesn’t truly switch off and you have had a high cortisol output for many, many years, your adrenal glands may not be able to sustain this. They aren’t designed to withstand this kind of output, so they ‘crash’ and cortisol output is no longer optimal or elevated; it will plummet. This has become known as adrenal fatigue, or ‘burn out’.
Signs that your adrenals need support:
– A deep, unrelenting fatigue
– Feeling tired, but wired
– Feeling stiff
– Digestive upsets such as reflux, bloating and IBS
– Extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the mornings
– Feeling like you NEED sugar or caffeine to get you through your afternoon
– If you don’t go to bed by 10pm, typically you will get a second wind and it will be much harder for you to fall asleep if you’re still up at midnight
The pituitary gland in your brain regulates your adrenals (and the rest of your endocrine system), and, although treatment for adrenal fatigue usually involves a range of strategies that support the adrenals themselves, going one step further and assisting the pituitary gland can also be immensely powerful and highly beneficial to restoring your health and vitality. In my opinion, a form of yoga known as restorative yoga, or Stillness Through Movement, is the most effective way to make progress in recovering from adrenal fatigue. With that said, never underestimate the healing and restorative power of food the way it comes in nature. With a combination of restorative practices, herbal medicine and a nourishing way of eating, it is possible to regain your health and vitality and recover from adrenal fatigue.
Watch Dr Libby talk about how iron deficiency in women can be linked to adrenal fatigue below.
Dr Libby’s Women’s Wellness Wisdom is now available.