As the impact of busy lifestyles, hectic schedules and increased external pressures is more prevalent than ever before – more and more of us are showing symptoms of adrenal fatigue. But what is it, how do you spot it, and what can you do to support body and mind and reduce the impact of adrenal fatigue?

What is adrenal fatigue?

If you’re struggling with a feeling of physical and mental overwhelm that’s hard to shake, you’re not alone. The definition of adrenal fatigue is still contested amongst some physicians – but its symptoms are becoming increasingly common, especially amongst otherwise young, fit and healthy individuals.

Understanding adrenal fatigue starts with knowing what the adrenal glands are, and what they do. These tiny glands sit just above our kidneys and work to regulate blood sugar and release cortisol when we encounter stressful situations. Stress is a useful and normal part of everyday life – and our bodies are fully equipped to deal with stressful events from time to time. But sometimes stress becomes all-consuming – a constant daily issue. And when we’re more stressed than not, our body reacts.

Adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands become overstimulated – which is brought about by chronic (prolonged and consistent) stress. Although a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue can be upsetting, the good news is that it’s possible to heal naturally without invasive surgery or pharmaceutical drugs.

Why is adrenal fatigue becoming more of an issue?

The causes of adrenal fatigue are numerous and look different for each and every person, depending on your unique experience and stressors. Usually there will be more than one trigger or influence behind the development of adrenal fatigue – which tends to become an issue over time rather than overnight. Some of the most common causes include:

*Stress – either chronic, long-term stress or a single stressful event can serve as a trigger

*Negative thinking over a prolonged period of time

*Food sensitivities and allergies

*Poor quality sleep or lack of sleep

*Poor diet/inadequate nutrition – including not eating enough or eating too much

*Extreme diets and exercise regimes

Stress is probably the biggest issue when it comes to adrenal fatigue – as modern lifestyles become more pressured and demanding and burnout is all-consuming for many people, who are juggling a growing list of personal and professional commitments. It’s not possible or realistic to try to avoid stress completely – but through finding effective coping mechanisms we can minimize the impact of any related health impact, including adrenal fatigue.

What are the symptoms of adrenal fatigue?

There are a number of key symptoms specifically associated with adrenal fatigue. You may experience some or even all of these symptoms depending on your unique triggers and state of health. Many of these symptoms can also mimic or be present with other health conditions, which can sometimes make adrenal fatigue difficult to diagnose and deal with.

Common symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

*Extreme fatigue (tiredness that doesn’t go away, even after sleep or rest)

*Brain fog (being unable to think clearly or focus, confusion)

*Irritability and short temper

*Shortness of breath and heart palpitations

*Dizziness and light-headedness

*Difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, feeling tired upon waking

*Insulin resistance

*Feeling ‘tired but wired’ (including an afternoon slump followed by excessive amounts of energy in the evening)

*Low blood pressure

*Unexplained weight gain

*Sweet and salty food cravings

*Low libido

*Dark circles under the eyes

Healing from adrenal fatigue

Healing from adrenal fatigue involves a multi-faceted approach and a new way of looking at stress, as well as the way your lifestyle may be impacting upon your mental and physical wellbeing. Changing your lifestyle can take time and requires you to move one step at a time, so it’s useful to pace yourself and ask for support when reaching your goals. As with many health- and lifestyle-related changes, it’s important to find solutions that work for you and be gentle with yourself as you implement new habits and healthier coping mechanisms to reduce the impact of adrenal fatigue.

Reduce stress: Reducing stress is often easier said than done – and as everyone’s triggers look slightly different, it’s important to find strategies that work for you. Consider which sources of stress influence your life the most, and make changes where necessary. This could involve working less hours, starting a meditation practice, sharing your concerns with a loved one or daily journaling. Some causes of stress may require professional intervention, such as abuse, mental health disorders and addiction. It’s important to seek specialist support where needed if you are struggling with any of these issues.

Improve your diet: What we eat can influence the health of our adrenal glands as well as supporting our wellbeing. Load up on healthy fats from avocados, ghee, olive oil and coconut oil and avoid processed or refined foods high in sugar and caffeine. It’s also important to ensure that you’re eating enough – as undereating or failing to eat at regular intervals can impact upon blood sugar, destabilizing the adrenal glands.

Minimize toxins: Toxin exposure is an issue for all of us – and it can be increasingly difficult to avoid. There are some things you can do to reduce your daily toxic load – such as swapping out plastic containers and bottles for glass, investing in natural beauty products and avoiding chemical cleaning agents.

Improve sleep quality: Poor sleep impacts upon health in a number of ways – including contributing to stress and adrenal burnout. Try to establish a healthy sleep routine, going to bed and rising at roughly the same time each day. Eliminate distractions such as screens an hour before you plan to sleep and aim for at least 8 hours per night. Try our Sleep Savior blend for effective holistic support.

Introduce daily movement: Exercise supports the adrenals in a number of ways – firstly through helping to manage and reduce stress. During physical activity levels of ‘happy hormones’ increase, leading to a reduction in stress levels. Some types of exercise such as yoga, Pilates and swimming offer additional support for emotional wellbeing.

Support your nervous system: When our ‘fight or flight’ response is activated our sympathetic nervous system springs into action to keep us safe – but when this becomes a regular occurrence we can begin to suffer from adrenal fatigue. Certain activities can support our parasympathetic nervous system such as meditation, massage, rest, deep breathing and positive thinking.