Negative stress impacts significantly on your adrenal glands. These little glands are responsible for producing all stress hormones. They tend to be worked pretty hard through your day, so need good recovery time. If this doesn’t happen, it can result in adrenal fatigue (adrenals become so tired they can’t produce enough of the necessary hormones to keep you in good health). If this situation continues, adrenal failure can occur with disastrous consequences for long-term health.
The following can lead to adrenal fatigue:
- lack of sleep
- poor food choices
- using food/drinks as stimulants when tired
- staying up late even though fatigued
- being constantly in a position of powerlessness
- constantly driving yourself
- trying to be perfect
- staying in a no-win situation over time
- lack of enjoyable and rejuvenating activities
Some symptoms to look out for include:
- difficulty getting up in the morning
- continuing fatigue not relieved by sleep
- craving for salt/salty food
- increased effort to do daily tasks
- decreased sex drive
- decreased ability to handle stress
- increased time to recover from illness, injury or trauma
- decreased productivity
- decreased tolerance
- symptoms increase if meals skipped or inadequate
- increased PMS; mild depression
- less enjoyment or happiness with life
- light-headed when standing up quickly
- thoughts less focused/more fuzzy
- memory less accurate
You can see now why it’s important to find ways to manage stress. Below are some practical ways to help you achieve this.
- Restrict your intake of processed carbohydrates (sandwiches, pasta, muffins, pastries, biscuits, fruit juices, fizzy drinks etc.) to keep blood sugar levels even.
- Eat meals and snacks regularly (every 2 to 3 hours) to avoid low blood sugar levels.
- Add some good quality protein and fat to every meal to balance the effects of insulin.
- Avoid artificial stimulants (coffee, tea, chocolates, sugar etc.).
- Try and rise at the same time every day, so that your body becomes used to waking without an alarm.
- Be aware of your breathing patterns throughout the day, particularly when feeling stressed (breathe deeply and use your diaphragm).
- Stay calm and consider how significant the stressful event really is in your life – will it seem important in 6 month’s time?
- Give yourself time to enjoy eating meals and snacks and keep calm thoughts while you eat.
- Try and bring regular physical activity into your life, as this is a very good way to release stress.
- Avoid high intensity exercise after 5.00pm, as this will raise cortisol (negative stress hormone) levels significantly.
- Be kind to yourself – pamper yourself in some small way, every day.
- Use muted/dimmed lighting at night and avoid the use of T.V.s and computers, particularly within 2 hours before bedtime.
- Read calming books before retiring in order to allow the central nervous system to calm down.
- Be sure your sleeping environment is dark, ventilated and cool to ensure maximum output of serotonin (relaxation hormone) and melatonin (sleep hormone).