Today I am going to share what it takes to heal adrenal fatigue by taking you through a day in my life!
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is the result of continuous stress and elevated cortisol levels (your stress hormone).
Prolonged or acute stress causes cortisol production to continuously increase and eventually become lower than normal leading to severely low energy. This dysregulation is how the body copes with ongoing stress in order to meet the demands you set for it.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
o low energy, you never feel well-rested
o feeling ‘wired but tired’
o cravings, coffee and sugar addictions
o anxiety, heart palpitations
o crying fits, breakdowns
o stubborn weight loss, especially belly fat
o loss of self-confidence and zest for life
o low sex drive
o brain fog
o concerned your health is getting worse
There are 3 different stages of adrenal fatigue. Each stage corresponds with the way in which your cortisol levels shift throughout the day.
Stage 1 of Adrenal Fatigue
People are prone to this stage of adrenal fatigue during times of extreme stress such as a tedious home renovation, personal illness or the death of a loved one. Stage 1 of adrenal fatigue is also common for those of us with a high-stress job.
Because of the stress you’re still able to get things done, but you’re running on adrenaline. You have more anxiety than you used to. In addition, you find it hard to calm yourself and you constantly feel overwhelmed.
The stress makes it hard for you to sleep well and you’re either constipated or have loose bowels. You may start to gain body fat (especially on your belly) even though you haven’t changed how you exercise or your diet.
Stage 2 of Adrenal Fatigue
People are prone to this stage of adrenal fatigue when they live with stress for some time. Either your lifestyle or your job makes it difficult for you to gear down and take the time you need to recharge.
You may have symptoms of Stage 1 of adrenal fatigue such as increased anxiety, feelings of constant overwhelm, poor sleep quality, poor bowel movements and an increase in body fat (especially on your belly) even though you haven’t changed how you exercise or your diet.
In addition to the symptoms above, you may notice symptoms of other hormone imbalances such as decreased libido, thyroid issues, increased PMS or amplified menopause symptoms.
Stage 3 of Adrenal Fatigue
People are prone to this stage of adrenal fatigue after undergoing cancer treatment or an extreme surgery.
If you’ve ‘crashed’, you may have symptoms of Stage 1 and 2 of adrenal fatigue such as increased anxiety, feelings of constant overwhelm, poor sleep quality, and poor bowel movements.
You may also experience symptoms of other hormone imbalances such as decreased libido, thyroid issues, increased PMS or amplified menopause symptoms, and an increase in body fat (especially on your belly) even though you haven’t changed how you exercise or your diet.
In addition to the symptoms above, those who have ‘crashed’ don’t feel well-rested in the morning. You may develop symptoms of an autoimmune disorder and you’re more susceptible to the common cold or the flu.
It’s common for those who have ‘crashed’ to feel achy joints and experience an increase in allergy symptoms.
So if you’re in one of the stages of adrenal fatigue, you’re probably wondering how the heck you’re supposed to heal and feel like yourself again.
I’d like to share the secret: Become a master of your daily routines to heal and remain healthy. Daily routines foster calm and help you transition into the healing parasympathetic nervous system. To show you what effective healing routines look like, I’ll use a day in my own life as an example.
My Adrenal Healing Routines
7 am Wake Up- It’s important to consistently wake up at the same time every day. This is a signal to my body that everything is as it should be and there’s no cause for alarm. Here’s my tip: Instead of waking up to the sound of a stressful alarm, try a natural sunlight alarm with some bird sounds.
Hydrate- Upon rising, I consume a simple adrenal tonic with water, 1/2 lemon and 1 tsp of schizandra berry powder that helps boost cortisol (it’s natural for it to peak in the morning) balance blood sugar, clear brain fog and increase energy.
Meditate- 10 minutes of a mindful meditation practice helps my body into the parasympathetic nervous system for the day. This important routine sets a baseline and reminds me of what it feels like to be calm and relaxed.
Personally, I’m in to Kundalini yoga sets, or kryas, which are 3-5 minute practices that are used to achieve a particular goal like balance the nervous system or increase energy.
8 am Breakfast- Eating within one hour of waking up assures the body that I’m not in a time of famine and that it can count on me to provide the nutrients it needs to heal. I recommend a smoothie with greens, Vitamin C, healthy fat and collagen protein to help stabilize your blood sugar.
Time Outdoors- Get outside for a relaxed walk for 10-30 minutes to get exposure to fresh air and sunlight. Our circadian rhythm is what ties us to our environment, and time outdoors (in the AM especially) helps encourage this connection.
12 pm Lunch Break- I get up and away from my desk at lunch to enjoy my food. My adrenal healing lunch is some salmon, zucchini noodles, pumpkin, and cilantro with sesame oil. Including all the macronutrients in the right quantities helps to balance my blood sugar. Afterwards, I try to get outside for another relaxed walk to get some natural sunlight. It really perks me up for my afternoon!
Snack Right- If I’m hungry in the mid-afternoon, an apple with almond butter or veggies with hummus is a perfect and simple snack. I take a break from my work again to do some deep breathing.
Leave Work Behind- When I complete my work, I make myself another simple adrenal tonic with 1 tsp of reishi mushroom and 1 tsp cordyceps mushroom. This routine is a signal to my brain that it can let go and leave work behind. The adaptogenic herbs I include in the tonic help to energize and calm me at the same time.
6 pm Dinnertime- I like no-fuss, one-pot meals. Ideally, I’ve prepared something in the crock pot that’s ready to go, or I warm up some soup or stew that I batch-cooked at an earlier date. Today I had some White Bean Chicken Chili that I topped with avocado and cilantro.
7 pm Screen Curfew- the blue light emitted by our devices is stimulating and makes it difficult for cortisol levels to decrease as they naturally would. I like to choose an activity that doesn’t involve screens, like reading some fiction, or I put my blue light-blocking glasses on so that I can watch some TV or videos on my phone. I recommend Swannies glasses, get your pair here.
Yoga Nidra- if you’re too tired to meditate, yoga nidra is the perfect practice for you. Otherwise known as ‘yogic sleep’, this guided meditation practice will shift you into the parasympathetic nervous system.
Practicing yoga nidra in bed is a surefire way for me to fall asleep, which is sometimes desirable. However, I try to stay awake for the nidra practice to get all the benefits of deeper states of consciousness so I like to practice on a yoga mat or the couch.
10 30 pm Bedtime- I turn out the light at around 10:30-10:45 pm every night. Just like waking up, it’s so important to go to sleep around the same time every night. This assures your brain that there’s no reason to stress, nothing is out of place. Because I’ve taken the time to wind down before sleeping, I get deep and restorative rest.
When I follow through with this plan every day, I don’t have to worry about stress-induced weight gain, brain fog or moodiness. My healing routines provide the structure my body and mind require to be healthy and calm.