The holidays are STRESSFUL. Let’s just admit that, and after a period of high stress, there’s a good chance you could be running on depleted adrenals or even full-blown adrenal fatigue.
If you find yourself hitting snooze half a dozen times, wishing you could nap in the afternoon, and have cravings for …sugar, salt, caffeine, and more sugar, you might need to boost and recharge your adrenal glands.
The adrenal glands are the body’s main stress responders. The body typically responds to physical and emotional stress by producing “stress” hormones to trigger what is known as the “fight or flight” response.
While this serves us in times of danger, during the chronic stress of modern life the body becomes depleted and exhausted.
The good news is that there are steps that you can take to optimize your adrenal function to prevent and recoup from adrenal fatigue.
Practicing deep breathing techniques will slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and relax your muscles; neutralizing your body’s response to stress.
Exercise provides the body with an opportunity to burn off accumulated stress hormones and serves as one of the most powerful relaxation tools.
Create good sleep hygiene by turning off the TV, computer, or cell phone and establish early bedtime routines to match your body’s hormone rhythm.
Refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods can exacerbate the stress response. Eat plenty of colorful veggies and fruits, whole grains, good fats and free-range and organic lean proteins. Be sure to include at least 1-2 liters of filtered water daily.
Hormone imbalance itself is a stress on the body. Balancing your hormone levels will help optimize the function of the adrenal, thyroid, and other glands. For example, try to minimize your exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals such as BPA (found in plastics) or phthalates (found in most conventional beauty products). Check out www.ewg.org for more information on what to look for on labels so that you can optimize hormone balance.
Vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium support adrenal function as well as the nervous system during times of stress. The B vitamins, especially B12, B5 and B6 have active roles in regulating mood and emotional well-being. Adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng, Rhodiola, Cordyceps, Ashwagandha, and Suma are greatly appreciated for a wide variety of actions; like fighting fatigue, reducing the levels of stress hormones circulating in the body, enhancing mental and physical performance, and increasing the body’s capacity to cope with stress.
Don’t get so caught up in the chaos that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it’s walking in the park, reading a good book with a cup of tea, or getting a massage.
This blog post was written by our guest writer, Dr. Marita Schuach. She’s a naturopathic doctor from Vancouver Island, focusing on preventative healthcare & health education.