Adrenal fatigue is a term to describe your adrenal glands when they are struggling to cope with your underlying stress and overly busy schedule. When your adrenals are overworked, you will likely end up feeling burnt out, and tired all the time.
Your adrenals can only handle so much. Playing an important role in your endocrine system, these small but mighty glands produce key hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. If you’re undergoing daily stress and triggers, these teeny glands become overworked, pumping out stress hormones in response to your life. There’s a point where your adrenals may seek help from other systems to keep up with the increased workload.
While it’s nice to know your systems work together to help you out, if we continue on this tunnel-vision path, we may end up weakening other systems in return. Unaddressed stress can have some serious repercussions, if you surpass the 4 stages of adrenal fatigue, you may enter insufficiency or exhaustion, which could manifest as an autoimmune condition. So how do you know if you’re experiencing adrenal fatigue?
9 Signs of Adrenal Fatigue That You Should Never Ignore
1. Feeling Overwhelmed by Life
So many of us put self-care at the bottom of our to-do list. If you’re not balancing your busy lifestyle you may be printing your ticket to burnout city. It’s ok to be a go-getter with over-achiever tendencies, but a key to your success resides in your self-care practices, not just how hard you can work. Because let’s be real, how can you be your best if you don't feel your best? You can’t and you can only fake it for so long. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, take a step back and check-in with yourself.
2. Not Sleeping Well
Ideally, we should all be getting between 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Your body needs this time to recover, reset and recharge for a new day. You should wake up every morning feeling refreshed and energized. However, many of us are actually being counter-productive by giving up sleep to continue with more work. Unless you’ve actually found the 25th hour in the day, all of this busy-bee behaviour throws off your balance and makes it harder for you to fall/stay asleep. It's time to introduce a healthy new habit to improve your rhythm. Here are 5 Tips for Better Sleep:
3. Exhausted After Working Out
Exercise should make you feel more energized, it shouldn't make you exhausted and fatigued afterwards. Physical stress can be troublesome for your adrenal glands - too much exercise can actually do the opposite of what you want. If your workouts make you feel drained for the rest of the day — what you’re doing isn’t working for your body right now. Switch up your routine when you’re feeling overworked – take part in lower-intensity exercises to create more balance. Don’t underestimate the power of a nature walk, pilates, and an at-home yoga session. Support yourself in feeling better, not worse.
4. Hormones Feel Unbalanced
When your adrenals are overworked, they may start calling in for help from other systems. In stage 2 of adrenal fatigue, oftentimes we see that the thyroid is affected. If your adrenals cannot keep up, hormone precursor material will be redirected for use in cortisol production – which may lead to a hormonal imbalance.
5. Anxious or Depressed
When you've got too much going on, anxiety kicks in. The pressure of deadlines and that busy schedule can bring on little spurts of adrenaline. Adrenal hormones are involved in cognitive function, mood and overall mental state. Unaddressed stress can create anxiety and depression, as when we are less tolerant than we normally are when we are already stressed, we are more easily frustrated.
6. Craving Salt
If you’re on team salt - you may be craving salty snacks for a reason. If your body is looking for more stress-fighting minerals, your body knows it can find comfort in sodium. Aldosterone is a salt-retaining hormone produced by your adrenals, when our adrenals can’t keep up with aldosterone production, cravings for salt may increase.
7. Relying on Caffeine to Get Through The Day
Coffee does not give you energy - you are borrowing that energy. While your brain might tell you that it needs caffeine to get through the day, it also keeps your body in stress mode as it signals the production of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Mornings can be tough when you have adrenal fatigue, but coffees initial surge of energy wears off and that innocent cup can leave you feeling even more tired and crabby than you did when you woke up. Start your morning with a high-quality greens powder, or a whole-food mushroom blend.
8. Digestion is Stressed and 'Off'
When you're under stress, your body is not focusing on optimally digesting and absorbing the nutrients in your healthy meal... Your body is responding to stress! Functions like digestion and metabolism are downregulated in adrenal fatigue mode, which increases the likelihood of you being bloated after eating - you may also experience weight gain, indigestion or constipation/diarrhea.
You can be creating super healthy recipes, and you should continue to do so, however, if your body is under stress, you may not be optimally absorbing and assimilating the nutrition within. At this point, you may need supplementation along with following these better digestion tricks:
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