Chances are if you’re part of this fast paced, over stuffed, over stimulated, over stressed culture you have experienced adrenal fatigue. This is an issue plenty of people deal with, however there is very little knowledge about it in mainstream medicine and therefore our society in general. Typically, doctors don’t recognize a problem until the adrenal issues have gone to an extreme level and thyroid issues ensue. This is not to point at doctors, it is simply outside of the realm of the modern medical perspective at this point in time. I will add though…awareness seems to be slowly occurring and I remain hopeful.
So what exactly is adrenal fatigue? Our adrenal glands are small walnut sized glands located above the kidneys. They create corticosteroids like cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline that then communicate specific messages to our brains that release certain hormones in response. I am going to keep it simple for the moment and focus on “CORTISOL”.
Our bodies are amazing and designed to work in very intricate ways with impressive communication skills. Cortisol may be a familiar word to some as it is linked to stress and weight gain.
Here is what happens: stress comes in different forms, physical, emotional, mental. What is stressful to me may not be to you and vice versa. We all have different tolerance levels of stress as well as different ways in which we deal with (or avoid) stress. However, when stress becomes chronic, our bodies become overwhelmed.
If I am dealing with a high level of stress for a prolonged period of time, rather than stress hormones spiking and then returning to normal, they will remain at an elevated level. Specifically focusing on cortisol today…if I have an overload of cortisol I will likely experience things such as headaches and backaches, cravings for junk foods (salty and sweet…refined stuff), sleep will be an issue perhaps having a hard time falling or staying asleep and then feeling tired even if I do get an adequate amount of sleep. A big one for a lot of people is weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Cortisol tends to make us hold on to body fat especially around the belly (aren’t we lucky?). Then it gets overzealous and won’t let go. Some people will experience depression and/or anxiety as well as gastrointestinal issues. Infections and allergies are also more prevalent with high levels of cortisol. And one more…it can kill your sex drive.
Anyone relate to any of this stuff in conjunction with some stress you’ve been dealing with? Yup. We all do at least at some point in life…especially in our crazy, fast paced society that has too much, is too busy and far too distracted.
If these type of stress responses continue for long, because we are not able to change the level of stress in our lives or haven’t figured out how, then our adrenal glands get worn down. **newsflash** We are not meant to have chronic stress in our lives. After a while our adrenal glands say…”well, I’ve put in my hours. This ‘overtime’ was not in my job description…I’m out”. They end up slacking off, but it’s because they aren’t equipped for the overload.
When adrenal glands become fatigued, the symptoms are like those I mentioned above. The symptoms often become more pronounced and you will likely have a more difficult time “shaking” whatever you feel you are dealing with.
I went to a naturopath several years ago because of this heavy fatigue I was experiencing that I didn’t understand. I eat healthy and balanced and exercise regularly…but the doctor sat and talked to me about my life in general. He even talked about past stress (yes, some childhood questions came up). He essentially brought to light how spread thin I was and how my body just needed rest (not just the sleep kind of rest) and more balance in all areas. I do struggle with this and have learned to be aware of it and manage it far better than ever before. This whole issue with our adrenal glands can really be a good thing…IF we listen!! It can motivate you to seek balance in your life. And balance, as we know, is one of my favorite things. <3 My hope is to help individuals to start recognizing the havoc that is being reaped on their bodies BEFORE it gets to such a critical level that medication and other things are necessary just to regain some form of “normal”. ATTENTION: once we reach critical levels with our health in general, we risk never being able to return to “normal” without the aid of modern medicine…which can often lead to other issues. It is super important to address problems and symptoms when they are manageable! Our issues are an opportunity to create healthy change!!! As I finish this I am noticing it is nearing midnight. Oops. I am a work in progress 😉 Good night sweet friends…