Do you have stress in your life? For many people, that question brings to mind the busy life we lead. We rush from home to work then back home for a few minutes before we try to sleep and start the process all over again. Or we are dealing with our own or a family member’s health situation. All of us deal with stress in some way, but for some of us, the stress itself affects our health.
Our bodies are designed to handle stress by making a hormone from our adrenal glands every day called cortisol. On a normal day with no stress, levels of cortisol are low all night long, allowing us to sleep, then rapidly come up in the early morning to help prepare us for the day. In the absence of significant stress, the levels decline throughout the day till they are much lower in the evening. This is all normal, and it is also normal during a time of stress for the body to respond to that stress by making more cortisol. However, for some people enduring a long period of stress (chronic) the adrenal glands lose the ability to make cortisol at the proper rate (Adrenal Fatigue), leading to various symptoms. There are many forms of stress, from mental and emotional factors, inflammation and pain, to blood sugar control. So this means the body could perceive stress being something as simple as a person not eating breakfast.
Adrenal fatigue is not always recognized as a medical condition in modern medicine but can affect your everyday life if left unnoticed. It can change your body type, your mood and how you function throughout the day. While there is no universally accepted way to diagnose adrenal fatigue, most people can be easily diagnosed by saliva testing for cortisol levels and a review of symptoms. Those who suffer from adrenal fatigue have their morning or afternoon cortisol levels low as well as their DHEA level. When DHEA remains low, your body’s ability to respond to stress is slower than normal. When cortisol levels are extremely low, they are often most considered adrenal exhaustion. You can say this is when you feel your adrenals have been “shot.” This changes your hormones and causes them to be imbalanced. Without treating this, severe complications can happen with extended time. Thyroid, gastrointestinal issues and cardiovascular issues can occur. So what are the signs? Lack of energy in the mornings, craving of salty foods, requiring a driving effort to get through the day, decreased sex dive and decreased productivity. What can you do to help relieve some of these symptoms? For most people in our country today a change of diet would be recommended since most people have a poor diet when under stress. They usually eat unhealthy food, drink sodas and coffee to help get them through the day. Change in lifestyle other than diet can also help reduce stress. Getting rid of the bad to get to the good. One of the first steps in addressing the issue is learning to recognize stress and develop new strategies to deal with it. Taking 10 minutes in the afternoon to do nothing or to meditate is helpful. This means not bringing your phone into the 10 minutes. Laughing can help change your perspective to stress. Instead of agonizing over it, you can view it from a different angle which can lead to more positivity. Get a good night’s rest and avoid staying up late. Some supplements to take to help with adrenal fatigue are adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Eleuthero (ginseng) Schisandra berry, and licorice root extracts have been helpful. Vitamin C, B-complex, Calcium and sometimes adrenal extracts can be helpful. Don’t let adrenal fatigue tire you out, get happy and healthy.