What The Heck Is Adrenal Fatigue And Do I Have It?
If there is one gland - or, set of glands - that we all need to become more committed to cultivating an intimacy with, it’s the adrenals (for all you Latin origin junkies: ad [near / at] + renes [kidneys]).
We throw the word out there like it’s #nbd, like we’ve got it under control, like eating the right foods (most of the time) and taking an afternoon walk through the woods will combat that horrid adrenal fatigue we hear so much about. But sadly… 1) the majority of us city dwellers don’t live in or near oxygenated woodlands, and 2) the adrenals are far more complicated and sensitive than any one step quick fix can cure. They’re small, stubborn, and don’t put up with the junk we throw its way.
The adrenal glands sit atop your kidneys like crowns for the kings and queens that they are. The kidneys remove the toxic wastes that sneak their way into our ingested liquids (or, suspicious solids). For that, I think they deserve crowns, don’t you? Unfortunately, the royal adrenals are pretty needy themselves, and it’s our duty to learn how to fulfill them and keep them stable. That is, if we ourselves want to feel fulfilled and stable.
Adrenal fatigue is a lot like hypoglycemia (aka low blood sugar) in that its symptoms are so far and wide, it’s often difficult to know what you’re actually experiencing. Is this the full blown thing, or just a byproduct of too many margaritas from that one time the other day? Adrenals are stubborn because they’re sensitive to much, much more than a margarita - they're also sensitive to that scone, coffee, and creamer you had for yesterday's breakfast.
But it doesn't stop there... Adrenal fatigue hits as a result of mental and emotional stressors as well. They’re quite spiritual glands, in that they become effected by the metaphysical on top of the physical, constantly re-learning to release and balance out the metaphysical complexities of day to day life: too little sleep, too much stress, heartbreak, self-doubt, insecurity, anxieties, etc. They filter all of that junk that gets created from holding onto work + relationship anxieties, and they’re your warning signal that it's time to slow the heck down.
Biologically, adrenals release hormones that are both essential for survival, and non-essential for survival. When the body experiences some form of stress - be it physical or emotional - the adrenals are the first to respond. Think of them as your personal fire-fighters (only, a bit less muscley + sexy). They don’t know the difference between being attacked by a wild animal, distress from a bad breakup, or two too many cups of coffee. To them, it’s all one in the same, and they’re going to respond in angst either way. This is when the hormone adrenaline rushes in, giving you that hit of unsustainable energy, sending you into fight or flight, and eventually leading to a desperate-for-coma crash.
Adrenal fatigue will show up in the bod as:
~ Interrupted sleep / wake cycles
~ Dark under eye circles
~ Off-your-regular-beat menstruation
~ Puffiness and soreness
~ The afternoon crash
~ Bloat / irregular weight gain or weight loss (especially in the gut region)
~ Complete exhaustion after a typically "easy" workout
The way we can begin to address metaphysical effects to the adrenals, is by nourishing them with quality over quantity choices in the physical realm. Mother Earth provides us with the proper tools to heal even the things that we cannot see - the things that we can only feel. PLANTS FOR THE WIN!
Here’s how to take control over them, without making things worse in the process:
~ Eat yo greens, then eat some more greens, then... eat some more greens
~ Skip the early morning, empty stomach black cup of coffee, and reach for a hearty roasted-dandelion tea (or your fave caffeine free tea!) instead. Spice it up the same way you would your coffee, plus an adaptogenic herb or two or three...
~ Alternate days of high intensity workouts with slower sessions; like yoga or pilates
~ Breathe. Deep. Deeper. Than. Usual.
~ And did I mention: eat yo greens.
Feeling better already? We are, too.