The daily demands of a busy lifestyle can often make it challenging to listen to your body. Getting pulled in and out of work meetings, running across town to catch up with friends and putting aside zero time for yourself can zap you of your energy, leaving you feeling drained and maybe even a little anxious. You often soldier through these feelings and assume they come with the territory of being “on your game,” but pushing yourself too hard for too long may be wreaking havoc on your health. Do you find yourself gulping down more coffee than usual throughout the day, or reaching for those sour gummy candies at work because you know the sugar high will keep you going? Do you have trouble falling asleep at night? Or deal with inexplicable body aches? If these symptoms feel like the norm, you might be experiencing adrenal fatigue.
So, what exactly is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is a disruption of your adrenal glands’ ability to make cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone, in the right amounts at the right times. The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and are responsible for regulating nearly every hormone in your body. A constant state of mental and physical stress, coupled with a diet high in caffeine, added sugars, and processed foods can send your adrenals into overdrive, which in turn can leave you feeling completely burned out.
Adrenal fatigue symptoms include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
- Body/joint/muscle aches
- Craving sweet and/or salty foods
- Digestive issues
- Brain fog
- Weight gain/loss
If any of the symptoms above sound like you, don’t freak out. Here are some remedies and solutions to try so you can get back to living your best life.
Check your stress
Chronic stress is one of the most significant causes of adrenal fatigue. Some things are out of our control, but check in with yourself. Acknowledge that a constant state of stress is not healthy for your body. Say no to plans with friends, and have a low-key night in instead. Push that meeting back at work if it isn’t urgent. Also, try incorporating meditation or mindfulness techniques into your daily routine.
Get some rest
Sleep is restorative. If you’ve been kicking your adrenals into overdrive the best thing you can do for them is to rest. While you’re at it, take a few extra steps to ensure you sleep well through the night. Set your phone to do not disturb and try to avoid all screens (phone, laptop, tablet) before winding down. Do some light yoga or stretching, or make a tea using your favorite adaptogen (more on that below!) to help you relax.
Maintain a well-balanced diet
Try to incorporate nutrient-dense foods and fats like lean proteins, dark leafy greens, avocado, coconut oil, MCT oil, and salmon into your diet. Reduce or eliminate added sugars and salt as well. When we’re busy and hungry we reach for whatever is nearby, but these aren’t always the most healthy. Snack on a handful of raw nuts and seeds, like almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds to get a mid-day boost.
Chill on the caffeine
You may be reaching for that extra cup of coffee to give yourself a much-needed jolt of energy, but caffeine can actually overstimulate and weaken your adrenals, meaning an even more drastic crash later in the day.
Move your body, but take it slow
When you’re chronically fatigued, hitting the gym may be the furthest thing from your mind. Start slow–incorporate yoga or low-impact exercises into your routine like walking, stretching or swimming.
Consider taking adaptogens
Adaptogens are herbal or plant-derived ingredients that support the body’s natural response to stressors. You can incorporate them into your meals or take as a supplement, but keep in mind that they’re not one-size-fits-all solutions. Check out our guide to learn more about introducing vitamins and supplements into your routine. Adaptogens that are good for addressing symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
Great for fighting inflammation and symptoms related to anxiety and exhaustion. This is a great supplement to take at night to help you wind down.
Rhodiola supports mental clarity and focus. It’s best taken in the morning, as it’s known to give a subtle energy boost, which can support productivity, helping you to get through the day.
Also known as Tulsi, this plant is great at aiding in relieving stress and anxiety. It’s also believed to improve adrenal health and protect the liver from toxins.
Start with these six steps, remain patient and you’ll soon be on the road to adrenal recovery. And while these are changes you can begin to incorporate into your life now, also consider a visit your doctor, holistic, or integrative health practitioner. They can assess your symptoms and run tests to give you the most accurate information on your adrenal hormone production.