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Heal Yourself from Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a term used by alternative health practitioners to explain tiredness and other symptoms which are thought to be due to chronic (long-term) exposure to stressful situations. However, it currently is not a recognized medical diagnosis

What is Adrenal Fatigue? Symptoms, causes, and natural treatment for women

Over half of all women suffer symptoms of hormonal imbalance that are rooted in stress. The reason why is simple: women live lives mired in chronic stress that our bodies just aren’t biologically designed to handle.

Your body is pre-programmed to react to stress in a way that protects you from danger. This “fight-or-flight response” is an ancestral system based on the idea that stress is temporary. You encounter danger, your adrenal stress response kicks in to help you escape it, and then you get to relax and recover.

In modern life, however, stress doesn’t just show up in isolated incidents. Instead, it’s everywhere, all the time, and we’re so busy that we rarely have enough time to recover before the next stressors show up.

As a result, stress hormone production in the adrenal glands is constantly churning, leading to real damage to the body’s delicate hormonal balance.

Cortisol, the major stress hormone, is often the villain. Excess or high levels of cortisol can throw your whole endocrine system off balance. If you’re suffering from fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, burnout, or a host of other similar symptoms, you may have some level of adrenal dysfunction or full-blown adrenal fatigue.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a symptom-based syndrome tightly linked to chronic stress — both physical and emotional. Being under stress day after day, week after week, forces the adrenal glands to work overtime pumping out the hormone cortisol at emergency levels.

What is the Root Cause of Adrenal Fatigue?

Cortisol is important for survival, but it’s meant to be released just during short periods and only when really needed. It becomes a problem when cortisol levels stay high because of chronic stress: elevated cortisol puts you at higher risk for a wide range of symptoms, including some you may not suspect.

Then, over time, in a classic domino effect, the adrenal glands’ production of cortisol can’t keep up with demand for it, and levels drop, along with those other hormones that depend in part on the adrenals, such as thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When your body is in “survival” mode, sex hormone production also takes a back seat. Both of these factors can cause sex hormones to be in flux, which causes even more symptoms, especially if you’re already in perimenopause or menopause.

Other health concerns, like depression, fibromyalgia, and hypothyroidism, can cause symptoms similar to those of adrenal stress. These types of issues are in fact often related to underlying adrenal problems — typically either triggered or worsened by an adrenal imbalance. It’s no surprise that supporting your adrenal function often works wonders for your overall health.

Symptoms and signs of adrenal fatigue in females

Adrenal fatigue develops over time in response to chronic stress. The longer it goes on, the more likely you are to develop symptoms. If you’re used to a stressful lifestyle, you might think you’re handling stress well. But in adrenal fatigue, your body may be telling you a different story.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue in females

Symptoms and signs of adrenal fatigue in females include:

  • Fatigue/Exhaustion (often feeling tired in the morning)

  • Insomnia

  • Weight gain (especially midsection weight gain)

  • Cravings for salty or sugary foods

  • Brain fog

  • Lightheadedness

  • Anxiety

  • Intense irritability

  • Depression

  • Fuzzy thinking

  • Reliance on caffeine to “get through the day”

  • Afternoon energy crash

  • Feeling suddenly alert later in the evening

Adrenal fatigue contributes to hormonal imbalance

Adrenal fatigue and adrenal stress symptoms are often intertwined with other hormonal imbalances. Women in their 40s and beyond who find themselves tired, tense, and stressed out usually suspect their symptoms are caused by perimenopause. But even when women are on the cusp of menopause, adrenal stress can be the driving force behind more difficult symptoms.

All hormones are connected to and affect one another, but “major” hormones like cortisol have the greatest impact on hormonal balance. As levels of stress hormones become imbalanced, other parts of your endocrine system can be disrupted, amplifying symptoms and creating further problems.

This adrenal connection to other hormones helps explain why the effects of stress can show up in such a variety of unpleasant ways. First taking care of your adrenal problems makes it easier to resolve other hormonal imbalance problems — including menopause symptoms.

Symptoms of high cortisol in women:

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, anxiety at night

  • Feeling driven or “speedy” all-day

  • Anxiety, panic attacks, easily startled

  • Racing thoughts, scattered thinking, inability to focus on one task

  • PMS, difficult menstrual periods, hormonal shifts of perimenopause or menopause

  • Fluid retention

  • Low libido

  • Thyroid issues

  • Anger

  • Depressed feelings

  • Abdominal weight gain

  • Food cravings, a tendency to eat a lot of calories at night

  • Frequent colds or infections due to a suppressed immune system

  • High blood pressure

Top 4 things you can do to feel better if you have adrenal fatigue

Sleep and rest – Honor the rhythm of your body by not overbooking yourself or making your calendar so busy that you’re constantly on the go without a moment of rest. Try starting your day with yoga or another gentle practice, like meditation or a walk in your neighborhood.

In the midst of your busy schedule, pencil in downtime during the day and start saying “no” more often to extraneous obligations that put you on overload. The school bake sale can still go off without a hitch without your famous homemade cookies that take you hours to make.

If there is something extra stressful that you must do, try to do it at a time when you will have time afterward to relax and recover. So, that stressful meeting with your boss? Schedule it for just before a long and leisurely lunch in order to give your stress response a chance to turn back off.

Also, make sure you sleep during the right hours. Be in bed and sleeping by 10:00 or 10:30 PM at the latest. If you need to unwind, or it takes you a while to fall asleep, then get to bed at 9:00 or 9:30 PM. Your night of sleep sets the stage for how easily you’ll handle stressors the next day. Make sleep a priority.

To help you sleep, try drinking soothing chamomile tea at the end of the day, soak in an Epsom salts bath.

Avoid caffeine – If your adrenals are tired, you need to let them replenish naturally. As explained above, caffeine takes you up but then it drops you way down.

After you’ve kicked caffeine, put your focus instead on hydrating throughout the day with water and soothing teas. Make sure you drink at least half your weight in ounces daily. Dehydration can contribute to fatigue, so drink up!

Eat well and often. Since hunger naturally signals your adrenal glands to release stress hormones, don’t skip meals or let yourself go too long without eating. Intermittent fasting may be too stressful for your body to try right now. Following an adrenal fatigue diet — eating certain foods, and eating at specific times of the day, — can help your body recover its natural cortisol rhythm. Avoid the “crash and burn” that follows sugar, white flour, and caffeine.

Modify your exercise routine if you feel drained by it. Some women feel great after they exercise. If this is you, stick with it. But others feel exhausted by exercise. Since your adrenals are stressed, take it slowly. Mornings are best for aerobic exercise because your cortisol is naturally at its highest, but keep your heart at or below 90 beats per minute. Try relaxing walks, yoga, or any kind of exercise that recharges you rather than drains you. Keep checking in with how you feel.

If you feel your adrenals need some attention here is a great course I took. It has great workouts that are not too hard on your body that will stress your adrenals out more than they already are. It has great healthy recipes for you to help balance hormones. And great tips! Self-care is the most important! We need to slow down, listen to our bodies, and take more time for self-care!

Click the link below for the course Kelli took to support her adrenals.

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