Stressed? Tired? Craving sugar? Can’t sleep?
All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. And, since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is something you may have heard of.
Your adrenal glands look like walnuts and are situated above both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones that are key to our ability to function and adapt to our surroundings.
Adrenaline and cortisol are the stress hormones that give you that adrenaline rush; when you’re totally alert and living in the moment. This feeling is known as your body’s “fight or flight” response and is your body’s normal reaction to stress.
Stress: The Good
Stress can sometimes be positive, like when it helps you swerve and prevent a crash. After a short time, the fight or flight response dissipates, your body goes back to normal, and all is good.
And some people love that intense “rush” feeling!
Stress: The Bad
But what would happen if you felt constant stress? All day, every day? Like chronic stress? It would no longer feel like that awesome “rush,” anymore would it?
And what do you think happens to your poor adrenal glands when they’re constantly working? …. they get fatigued.
How do I know if my adrenals are overworked?
Your adrenal glands can start to get tired of secreting a large number of stress hormones.
You may begin to experience symptoms like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, weight loss or gain, joint pain, or sugar cravings. Even frequent infections like colds and the flu are signs that your adrenals are overworked.
Unfortunately, there aren’t medically accepted blood tests for adrenal fatigue. And it’s not recognized by most medical professionals until your adrenals are so fatigued they almost stop working. At this point, a diagnosis of “Adrenal Insufficiency” or “Addison’s Disease” may apply.
Luckily this is rare, but if you do have symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out these or other conditions. Your doctor may even be open to discussing adrenal fatigue, or at the very least, wellness strategies that can help to reduce your stress (and symptoms).
What to do if I have these symptoms?
There are many actions you can take to reduce your stress and improve your health and energy levels.
If you think stress is starting to burn you out, stress reduction is key. There are tons of ideas about how you can reduce your stress. My favourites are meditation, walking in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or taking a bath.
I also recommend reducing sugar and processed food intake and eating more fruits and vegetables. Better nutrition can help reduce stress and poor nutrition can cause an added stress. Supplements in the form of adaptogens can also be helpful.
Managing blood sugar is one of the most important diet changes you can make. Do you want some free blood sugar balancing dinner ideas to get you started? Check out my FREE recipe book with some delicious options that take 20 minutes or less to prepare:
Your adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress. After long-term daily stress, they may get tired.
Adrenal fatigue is a controversial disease because it doesn’t have a true diagnostic test, nor specific telltale symptoms. However, it is important to get tested to rule out other potential conditions.
You can also improve your diet and try stress reduction techniques like meditation, walks in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or a relaxing bath.