Have you noticed that it’s almost like the lights have gone out when you look into your partner’s eyes? Perhaps their once effervescent nature has been dulled to the point that they’re irritable, sleepy all the time and generally just not themselves. These can all be signs of burn out or someone who is chronically stressed.
In our fast-paced world, far too many of us are churning out a relentless stream of stress hormones and it’s having a significant impact on our bodies. Everyone responds differently to the daily stresses in their lives and it can be challenging to stand back and watch the people we love most in the world as their energy dwindles and their health begins to suffer.
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Dr Libby Weaver author of Women’s Wellness Wisdom shares the signs and symptoms of chronic stress that can mimic myriad other health conditions which are important to rule out. However, they include:
– A deep, unrelenting fatigue
– Feeling stiff, particularly in the mornings
– A lack of motivation
– Sugar cravings
– Poor quality sleep
– Anxious feelings or irritability
– Digestive upsets such as reflux, bloating or IBS
– Low morning cortisol levels or cortisol that is too high in the evening
If our partner or anyone else in our lives is dealing with chronic stress or adrenal fatigue, the best thing we can do to support them is to understand that the healing process can take some time. Of course, first they will need to decide for themselves that they are ready to make lifestyle changes that support their path to better energy. Sometimes our own expectations can be the hardest thing to manage when someone we love is suffering. You want what’s best for them and advice always comes from a beautiful place to help them feel better, but until they make the decision to help themselves all we can do is shower them with love and support. With that in mind, here are some suggestions that can help your partner or loved one to address chronic stress and decrease the pressure on their adrenal glands—when they’re ready.
Discern between what’s urgent and what’s not
With modern technology, everything is at our fingertips whenever we want it and we’re contactable all the time. This seems to have set up a sense of immediacy in our culture and many people have lost touch with what is truly urgent and what might be important but can wait. It can help to explore the pressure we’re putting on ourselves to deliver beyond our body’s capability to cope. We’re not designed to be on 24/7. Our bodies need rest and time to recuperate and exploring our perception of pressure and urgency can help us to identify if we’re prioritising things unnecessarily.
Cut back on high intensity exercise
High intensity exercise can actually add to our stress load. When we’re already churning out stress hormones and we regularly engage in high intensity exercise, it simply puts more pressure on the body and creates more degenerating free radicals. We want to feel energised and uplifted after exercise, not tired and depleted. It can be helpful to use our energy as an indicator for the amount and intensity of exercise we engage in. Encourage your partner to switch from running to walking, and to look at including gentle yoga, Stillness Through Movement, meditation or breathing exercises into their weekly routine.
Focus on nourishment
When the body is stressed, our nutrient needs go up! We need more nutrients to fuel the stress response along with all the other important processes that keep us alive and in good health. So nourishment is incredibly important. Generally speaking, when we’re stressed, we tend to make less nourishing food choices because we are less motivated to take care of ourselves well when we’re running low on energy. We opt for the quick and easy solution instead. If you live with your loved one, helping them ensure they prioritise their nourishment by preparing meals based on whole, real foods (with plenty of colourful vegetables) can be a wonderful way to support them.
Health professionals with experience in supporting people with adrenal fatigue or chronic stress can be incredibly helpful. Whether an integrative doctor, nutritionist, naturopath, acupuncturist—or combination of a few practitioners—encourage your loved one to seek support. Depending on what has been driving the stress response, emotional support in the form of a psychologist or counsellor may also be helpful.