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Adrenal fatigue is something that more and more people seem to experience. Today I’m going to share some of what has worked for me in my struggle with adrenal fatigue. I began my adrenal fatigue research crusade about 6 years ago when I began to feel exhausted, foggy, and started gaining weight. At that time I was doing crossfit 4 days a week and eating very low carb Paleo. I was in the prime of my life, physically. Strong, disciplined, driven. All of a sudden things went awry and I couldn’t figure it out. After years of research and trial and error, I’ve found some things that truly seem to help me. It’s been a long battle, and it’s not over – I had my body working pretty optimally when I found out I was pregnant with my precious 1 year old. The pregnancy went beautifully, but afterward I was left with a body that was hurting all over again. Add in stress from outside sources and just the stress from having a new baby, and my body was left stuck in fight or flight more often than not. Here’s what has helped me, and will hopefully help you.
Yes, this is always the number one, and seemingly impossible when outside factors are part of what’s causing your stress. I, too, have read “reducing stress” and rolled my eyes. But it’s true. What you can do to try to reduce stress is create a space or time that is your own. That can be as simple as taking 3 minutes to do some deep breathing each day, really. I’ve found that meditation is incredibly helpful. It doesn’t have to be difficult or long. I use the Insight Timer app, and it has been excellent. It’s a free app with hundreds of free guided meditation, some as short as 5 minutes in length. I’ve found that my sweet spot is around the 10 minute meditation mark. It’s long enough that I’m able to get myself to relax, but not so long that I can’t sit through it. Don’t worry about your mind going astray; that happens to everyone. Just redirect your mind back to the meditation when you catch yourself. Another stress reliever can be journaling or talking things out. I find myself so much less stressed after I’ve unloaded. It’s amazing what we keep inside and how much that impacts our emotional wellbeing.
I find using a sun lamp incredibly helpful. There’s a decent amount of science behind why this works – it gets your brain in a circadian rhythm that can be missing during winter months when we’re getting ready when it’s dark outside. Sitting in front of the lamp (this is what I use) or having it going in the bathroom as I get ready in the morning truly helps me feel more awake and energized and helps me have an overall better frame of mind going into the new day.
I use organic raw potato starch. I put it in my pea protein shakes; it’s tasteless. The benefit here is that it feeds anaerobic probiotics in your body. Anaerobic probiotics cannot be exposed to air. They make up the majority of the probiotics in the gut, but since they can’t be exposed to air, they can’t be introduced to the body with a probiotic pill. Resistant starch feeds and helps multiply these widespread and incredibly important probiotics. The gut needs to be working optimally in order to heal anything else happening in the body.
Raw Honey with Salt
I use local raw honey and pink Himalayan salt. I mix them in a ramekin and then take about a teaspoon before bed. The mixture nourishes the adrenals, which helps your body stay asleep. This has been very helpful for me when I’m really struggling with sleep.
I know it sounds weird, but adrenal fatigue can make you really jumpy. The slightest sound can send a jolt of adrenaline through your body, meaning you both wake up, and then are unable to get back to sleep. On a whim, I tried using earplugs. To my delight, it worked better than I ever would have imagined! I use a sound machine, as well, but I was still startling a lot. It hadn’t even dawned on me, really, that it could be slight noises causing me to wake. But out of desperation, I tried earplugs, I honestly don’t even know how or why it popped into my mind. But after having success using them, it clicked that I was startling awake, and that it must have been little noises causing it. I have both small and sensitive ears, so most earplugs, including the foam option, become painful after an hour or two. Not comfortable at all for overnight. These are what work for me.
What? Isn’t that counterintuative? Yes, if you do too much. And if you’re in a bad spell of AF. But if you’re not at a point of it being debilitating, light exercise can be incredibly beneficial. Moving the body means moving the lymphatic system, which means cleaning out what needs to get out, and helping hormones to work optimally. I recommend not doing aerobic exercise. No HIIT. Nothing especially exerting. At first, if you haven’t been exercising, or if you have been exercising too much (which honestly lands me in bed for days), I recommend walking. A 10-20 minute walk gets the body moving. Beyond that I recommend nothing over 20 minutes in regard to working out. Circuits are great because it keeps it interesting, but again, no high intensity. I also have diastasis recti (thank you, my two beautiful daughters!), so I have to keep my workouts diastasis recti safe, as well. If you aren’t afflicted with that, pushups, planks, and crunches are fine. Squats are great, lunges, bending/stretching, push presses with light weight, and step ups are all great exercises to include. Yoga is also a great option. There are some good beginner relaxation yoga videos available at no cost on YouTube.
I know it’s not always easy, but this piece is really, really, really vital. If you feel burned out, rest. If you feel like you’re feeling a lot of adrenaline surges, rest. If you feel like you overexerted yourself, rest. If you feel like you finally have energy and want to push it a bit, don’t. Trust that you need rest. Take the time. Make the time. It can help you avoid complete burnout. And it can help you heal.
I hope that you are able to put some of what has helped me into practice, and that it helps you. Please feel free to ask questions and share your tips.
***I am not a medical doctor and nothing in this blog is medical advice or to be used in lieu of medical treatment or advice from a doctor.