ADRENAL FATIGUE & STRESS
Even though stress is considered common place in our day-to-day life, it can lead to many problems. Adrenal burnout or the Exhaustion Phase is where the body has coped with long term stress but cannot cope any longer, and symptoms start to show.
Signs of Adrenal imbalance could be any of the following:
Exhaustion/ Burnout intolerances
Poor memory and concentration
Low or fluctuating mood
Frequent colds/ infections/ Flu Like Symptoms
Problems with sugar, salt or stimulants
Lowered Sex Drive
Hair Loss or Thinning
Palpitations/ Panic attacks
The Adrenal Gland controls the bodies fight and flight system. Increased stress and anxiety cause a release of adrenalin into the blood supply. This response is your bodies instinctive response to stress from unexpected events.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Many things lead to stress, from areas of physical, environmental, or emotional issues. We tend to feel less stress if we have time, experience, and the resources we need to manage a situation. An accepted definition of stress (from Richard S Lazarus) is that stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise. Hans Selye (one of the founding fathers of stress research) in1956 was quoted to say that:
“stress is not necessarily something bad – it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental.”
What are the Adrenal Glands?
The adrenal glands are triangular shaped glands that sit on top of both the kidneys. The glands contain two different hormone producing areas the Adrenal medulla & the Adrenal cortex.
1-The Adrenal cortex - works on the production of steroid hormones.
2-The Adrenal medulla - secrete water soluble hormones Adrenaline and Noradrenaline directly into the blood stream with stressful situations. This triggers the fight and flight response by preparing the body for an emergency.
The Adrenal Gland controls the bodies fight and flight system. Our busy lifestyle puts considerable stress on our bodies. Increased stress and anxiety cause a release of adrenalin into our blood supply, increasing the heart rate and muscle tension, readying the body to react quickly to the specific situation. Even though these situations appear commonplace the adrenals still react, building up chemicals in the body. Initially the body responds quickly to these stimuli, however over a long period of time the body adapts to the stress and sooner or later stops being able to cope and you then get the Exhaustion Phase / Burnout where you are more likely to go down with flu like symptoms and stimulants such as coffee, stop working as the body can’t cope with being pushed any further. One of the big problems with burnout is that you often don't notice that it's happening until it's too late.
Case History – Adrenal Fatigue
When I saw Jack, he was very stressed at work and was feeling under pressure to keep up with his case load. He felt tired, anxious and was starting to get panic attacks. He had a twitchy eye and was getting quite irritable and not sleeping well. Jack was also craving stimulants to keep himself going. I recommended he learn some stress release techniques such as (EFT) Emotional Freedom Therapy, increase his water intake, adding a 50mg B complex tablet, a Milk Thistle tablet to calm his liver energy and for him to stop the caffeine completely as 1 cup of a stimulant such as tea or coffee etc stays in the body for 24 hours and doesn’t allow the body to switch off properly as it is being continuously topped up. Jack also received acupuncture to boost his adrenal (Kidney Energy). For the 1st week Jack suffered a bit with headaches as he went through a caffeine withdrawal. After a week he said he missed the caffeine, but he felt calmer, the panic attacks were less, and his twitchy eye had stopped. Over the next few weeks with the treatment plus the acupuncture all his symptoms cleared, and he was able to cope again at work.
“ Thank you Amanda for giving me my life back.”
HOW DO I FIGHT STRESS?
The major approaches to manage stress are:
Action-oriented: by confronting the problem causing the stress and then changing the environment or the situation.
Emotionally oriented: you might not have the power to change the situation, but you can manage the stress differently by changing your perception of the situation and the way you feel about it.
Acceptance-oriented: Where something has happened over which you have no power and no emotional control, and where your focus is on surviving and getting past the stress.
1- Increasing water intake, as our body needs water to flush out toxins. If you are dehydrated (it’s the difference between a free-flowing stream or a stagnant puddle)
2- Adding a 50mg B complex tablet, as the more stressed you are the more B vitamins you absorb therefore the more you need. (Be aware the B vitamins can turn your urine florescent yellow and this is ok)
3- A Milk Thistle tablet to calm the liver energy as the liver in Chinese philosophy works with the emotions of anger, frustration and irritability.
4- Take Vitamin C as this is necessary to protect the adrenals from high levels of free radicals produced during times of stress.
5- A Calcium & Magnesium supplement is helpful as the Magnesium work with muscle aches and aids sleep and Calcium helps calm an overactive nervous system.
6- Stop the caffeine completely as 1 cup of a stimulant such as tea or coffee etc stays in the body for 24 hours and doesn’t allow the body to switch off properly as it is being continuously topped up. This includes coke, green tea, and energy drinks.
7- Balance blood sugar levels – by reducing excess sugar and eating more slowly digested carbohydrates. But in smaller amounts as wheat-based products and high carbohydrate diets can make you tired.
8- Eat more antioxidant-rich food, fruits & vegetables.
9- Increase intake of oily fish and take fish oils – if the skin is dry or itchy.
10- Cut down or stop alcohol as this can irritate the liver and make the symptoms worse.
11- Eat regularly but healthy foods to keep the blood sugar balanced.
12- Exercise can help lift moods and aid detoxification but avoid excess or high intensity as this can actually drain the adrenals. Gentle regular exercise that calms the mind and body such as walking, dancing, yoga or swimming can aid proper adrenal recovery.
13- Deep breathing – can be calming as when we are stressed we tend to curl in on ourselves. Dropping the shoulders down and slightly back opens the chest area and allows for deeper breaths.
Stress Management needs lifestyle changes, such as the above to maintain a calmer mind and body. There are many areas you can work with, but it pays to take a 3-prong approach by working with the nutritional side the emotional side and the physical side.
Start a relaxation technique such as (EFT) Emotional Freedom therapy, which is a technique where you tap on points on the body that are linked to different emotions and works as a flush or a release valve for emotional stresses,
NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which helps you change your way of looking at things and think in a more positive way.
Music, Meditation, and visualisation techniques to relax the mind and find a relaxed state.
Find time to turn off, power nap with deep breathing, time to relax.
Make sleep important take a camomile tea before bed as it helps relax the body.
The best way to manage burnout is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Consider your health and mental state as important parts of your life and develop new ways of enjoying life more. Take it back to basic needs. I always find thinking “another day above ground is a good day” is a great quote. Remember to seek help from friends, family, and therapists if you need it.