Adrenal exhaustion is a newer diagnosis by integrative, holistic practitioners but not recognized by conventional medicine. Over the years, I've realized I was the perfect fit to the picture of a young stressed-out woman with chronic stress.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm very type-A, always on the go, and have a million and one things going on all the time! I've been this way as long as I can remember — overly zealous, eager, aggressive, and ready to conquer the world.
Of course with that personality and mindset, you get worn out over time because your baseline is stressed. I'll admit that even today I don't know how to really relax and do absolutely nothing at all! Even my yoga and meditation is "scheduled" into my day.
So what happens to overachievers like us? We're always tired, exhausted, run down, overwhelmed, irritable, hungry, headachy, and drinking caffeine 24/7 to function because our body is always STRESSED. This is what adrenal exhaustion is!
I'm sure many of you can relate to this. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.
But first, you want to measure your hormone levels. Many conventional physicians won't know what you're talking about when you mention "chronic stress" and brush it off, so seek out a trained integrative and functional specialist who can help you with this.
Once you have your levels, you can then tweak your lifestyle so you can normalize your stress hormones. When cortisol is always high, this contributes to weight gain, inability to lose weight, decreased immune function, and depression. It also starts affecting your other hormones including thyroid and insulin production, which can cause you to crave more sweets.
1. Cut out the coffee.
This is important because coffee perpetuates the release of cortisol, and in adrenal fatigue you want to decrease levels. The ideal goal is to cut out all caffeine.
You can switch from coffee to green tea, but the less stimulation your body gets, the better. This may be hard initially, and you may experience withdrawal but you'll be surprised by how your body will thank you later on.
2. Exercise less.
Yes, I said it. Exercise less! It doesn't make sense, does it? You should feel rejuvenated and energized after a run, right? Well, if you're already stressed and tired with adrenal fatigue, a 2-mile run can make you feel worse and more exhausted.
Instead, cut the high intense cardio activity and choose things like yoga, Pilates, or even barre. Walking is another simple substitute you can do. Instead of doing high-intensity cardio activity five times a week, cut it down to two or three.
3. Get more sleep.
How many times have you heard this one? Sleep is important not only for your brain to function, but your body needs it to maintain balance.
Many studies have linked decreased sleep and melatonin to increased risk of Alzheimer's, depression, and weight gain to name a few. Your mind needs to reset, and sleep helps to halt the stimulation and relax the body.
Over time, decreased sleep starts making you irritable, angry, depressed, and moody — it's not natural not to sleep! Ensure you're getting at least seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night.
4. Learn to relax.
The best way to do this is training your mind. Meditation is a great way to relax.
Start by incorporating five minutes of silence a day, and you can build up from there. The more in tune you are with your body, the more likely you'll learn to realize what you can and cannot handle.
You have to make time for yourself and time for your body to recuperate. Other things you can try incorporating include acupuncture, massage therapy, aromatherapy, or engaging in a hobby or activity you enjoy. Taking frequent relaxing vacations is also a good way for your body to "reset."
5. Eat more protein.
You need to make sure you're eating a diet filled with protein and eating more of it frequently. Make sure you're eating about 60 grams of protein per day.
Eating every three to four hours is a good idea not only to keep your metabolism going, but this also helps keep your cortisol levels in check.