Five years ago I was sitting on my chiropractor’s table in Sydney. I had recently been in a tiny fender bender in peak hour traffic and I was still having trouble. My brain was functioning a bit slower but some of my work colleagues didn’t care. “I know you have a brain injury,” said one, “but I need that information NOW!” I was also having trouble sleeping. But that didn’t stop me getting up at 5.30 every morning so I could get my workout in at the gym. I had the beginnings of my second bout of endometriosis (although I didn’t know that yet). So it wasn’t surprising that I all I could do to get through the day was drink a ton of coffee and eat all the banana bread that I could get my hands on.
I had explained to my chiro how tired I was (but I don’t think I’d told him about the early mornings and my shitty eating habits). He decided to do a few extra tests. And he held a pen up to my eyes and asked me to follow it as he moved it slowly from side to side. It hurt. A lot. Moving my eyes from side to side hurt so much that I started to cry. I was exhausted. And he said to me, “Em, its adrenal fatigue. You need to rest.” Of course I started listing off all the reasons why I couldn’t. I was too busy.
Three months later I was in hospital for my second surgery for endometriosis and this time they took my left ovary. I guess that’s one way to get a rest!
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Our adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and are responsible for regulating the stress hormones in the body. They produce adrenaline and cortisol which are required to helps us handle stress. But they weren’t designed to handle CONSTANT stress. Stress was supposed to be short lived (i.e. running away from sabre toothed tigers back in the cave men days, not showing up to a job you hate every day because you feel trapped financially). And so many of us now days are under constant stress – including physical, emotional, mental stressors. Some of us never get a break. And if the adrenal glands are being over worked they can become exhausted and affect other bodily systems. This is adrenal fatigue.
What are the signs of Adrenal Fatigue?
- Feeling tired but wired, poor sleep
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Cravings for salt, sugar and carbs
- Excessive sweating with not much physical activity
- Cystic breasts
- Low blood pressure
- Thyroid problems
- Chronic infections
- Muscle twitches
- Weight gain (especially around the middle), or inability to keep weight on
- Light headedness when standing
- Light sensitivity or problems seeing at night
- Premature ageing
- Easily startled
- Excessive mood responses to eating carbs like bread, pasta etc.
- Low blood sugar
- Low libido
- Intolerance to alcohol
- Lower back pain, knee weakness, pains on one side
- Dry unhealthy looking skin
- Hair loss
- Poor concentration
- Can also lead to serious conditions like Addison’s Disease or Cushings Syndrome
How do you treat Adrenal Fatigue?
You may want to start by getting some blood tests from your doctor. But you can start to take some steps towards better health straight away. If you are experiencing many of these symptoms you need to take your own health into your hands before you have a breakdown! Here are my top tips for supporting your adrenals.
- Eating well is very important. Keep blood sugar stable by eating whole, unprocessed foods and avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
- Getting enough sleep is imperative! Two tips I like to recommend are
- Set an alarm for going to bed. Count back 8 hours from when you need to wake up and set an alarm for 30 minutes before that time. This will remind you it’s time to start thinking about bed. You can stop “doing” and start slowing down.
- The essential oils Lavender & Frankincense applied to the soles of the feet are almost as good as sleeping pills for helping you to sleep. I highly recommend DoTERRA essential oils.
- Gentle exercise is great for combatting stress. But hard core exercise is not when you have adrenal fatigue. If you are feeling exhausted, gentle yoga will be much more beneficial for you than going hard at the gym. If you are new to yoga you can register for my free 7-day yoga course here. Just a few minutes a day will have you knowing all the basics in one week!
- Regular rest and relaxation is very important. Stress reduction techniques like meditation, massage, aromatherapy, getting into nature, spending time with friends and afternoon naps can be very beneficial.
Learn a gentle full body workout, how to eat for boosted energy and what stress does to your midsection in my free 3-part video series. Sign up below and you will receive your first video via email today.