Are you in zombie mode?
Are you sick of being tired ALL THE TIME? Could you stay in bed all day? Could you sleep 24 hours and still not feel rested? Do you feel drained and depleted after workouts? Do you feel unmotivated? Do you feel like a zombie going through your day? Do you experience mood swings, depression, or anger you can’t explain?
The most common thing I hear from women is that they constantly feel drained. And they start to think that this is normal because it’s common or they have always felt like this.
Let’s stop right now and let me tell you something.
Common does NOT mean normal.
Your body loves you and wants you to feel amazing. You were designed to feel good and fulfill your life’s goals with energy and motivation. Fatigue is the number one symptom of all chronic diseases and is a symptom that is trying to tell you something is off. You weren't born to feel like crap and stay in bed all day.
So what is going on here?
Let's dive right into adrenal fatigue, burn out, and how you can ditch the zombie mode!
What are the adrenal glands?
The adrenal glands are two walnut-sized glands that sit on top of the kidney and are responsible for many crucial body functions. They are most active between 8 am and 8 pm and are synced with the sun.
What do they do?
- respond to stressors
- produce hormones that regulate salt and water balance of the body
- involved in the metabolism of carbs, fats, and protein
- involved in the regulation of blood sugar
- protect you from infection by supporting immune function
- provide you with energy
- stimulate hormone production and sexual function
As you can see the adrenal glands have many functions as well as respond to stressors. In an acute stress stage your body is equipped at dealing with this. But it's different with chronic stress, as your body keeps shuttling out cortisol and adrenaline which over the long term depletes your adrenal glands and leaves you feeling pretty crappy. You can only go full speed on the gas for so long, at some point you are forced to slow down and then eventually stop.
So what is stress?
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Over or under eating
- Inadequate sleep
- Lack of exercise
- Too much exercise
- Inflammatory foods (hydrogenated oils, sugar, trans fat, caffeine, alcohol, gluten, soy, peanuts, dairy)
- Environmental toxins (pesticides, perfumes, cleaning products, cosmetics, soap)
- Trauma (accidents, death of a loved one, root canal, surgery, breakups)
- Work & career
- Technology :(phones, computers, wifi, microwaves)
- Money, debt, bills
- Lack of vitamin C, B5, potassium, B12, vitamin E, choline
- High sugar
- Refined grains
How does adrenal fatigue and stress affect our body?
Your heart rate quickens, your blood sugar goes up, your respiratory passages dilate, your blood vessels constrict, blood is shunted away from your digestive system and to your muscles, your pupils dilate...
Chronic stress is linked with...
- premature aging
- decreased immunity
- disrupted digestive function and can lead to poor digestion and dysbiosis
- heart disease
- menopausal symptoms
- disrupted thyroid function
- weight gain especially around the middle
- hormonal imbalances
Symptoms of adrenal stress:
- I often feel tired and wired at bedtime
- I fall asleep and wake up a couple of hours later or repeatedly during the night
- I need a nap at 4pm
- I stress eat (especially carbs, fatty foods, and sugar)
- I need coffee to start my day and/or in the afternoon
- I am overweight, especially around my middle
- I experience raging PMS
- I have frequent cravings for salt, carbs, fatty foods and sugar
- I get sick easily and frequently
- I often feel moody or depressed
- I have trouble with my focus and memory
- I feel out of breath or depleted easily with exercise
- I have digestive problems or IBS
- I have trouble gaining weight
- I experience dizziness upon rising
The adrenal glands are most active in the morning and follow a curve throughout the day: high in the morning and slowly drop down throughout the day to level off at night so that you can sleep. This doesn't happen when the adrenals are imbalanced which results in insomnia, fatigue, and irritability. At the begining you may be feeling wired but eventually you crash as there is no more fuel in the engine.
So, what can you do?
- Eliminate coffee or limit to 1 cup before noon and always with food! Coffee stimulates the adrenals and causes blood sugar imbalances, it can worsen hormonal symptoms, and cause jitteriness and irritability. Alternatives to coffee : dandyblend, green tea, chai, four sigmatic, cacao, mushroom blends.
- Eliminate sugar and refined carbs. Again, these just spike blood sugar and promote spikes and crashes which stresses out your adrenal glands and pumps out excess insulin.
- Breakfast: Eat a protein-rich breakfast within one hour of waking to balance the cortisol after a night of fasting. This will help stabilize blood sugar and keep your energy level for hours.
Deep breathing: take 3 deep breaths before meals and when stressed. This helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system (your rest and digest state) and decreases cortisol. Deep breathing also releases endorphins and relaxes muscles. Stressed out? Try it.
Exercise: avoid over-exercising and too much cardio. Include slower movement like walking, pilates, and yoga. When you are overstressed and burning out, exercise is another stress and should not leave you feeling depleted. Assess whether you feel energized or completely worn out after a workout and re-evaluate your exercise routine. Take it down a notch, include rest days and slower movement to balance that cortisol.
Bedtime: try to be in bed by 10pm and adopt a bedtime routine! Going to bed super late and changing your routine is a stress to your body and disrupts your circadian rhythm. The adrenal glands LOVE routine and follow the circadian rhythm as they are most active with the rising sun and taper down throughout the day until night. Try to aim for the same bedtime and stay away from electronics 1 hour before bed.
Found abundantly in the adrenal cortex and depleted by stress, it is anti-inflammatory, protects the adrenals, helps to normalize cortisol levels and replenishes the adrenal glands. During times of stress the body’s need can increase from 10 to 20 fold. Recommended dose: 1500 to 3000 mg/day.
B5 pantothenic specifically helps respond to stress and modulates cortisol secretion.s B vitamins are important in neurotransmitter production like GABA and serotonin. They play critical roles in the production of stress hormones (they are so-called co-enzymes that make hormone production possible) and help strengthen the adrenal glands. Take in the morning with food or bedtime to rebalance overnight cortisol that can cause night walking and morning fatigue.
My favourite supplements of ALL time! Found by soviet scientists for endurance athletes and factory workers for stamina and performance, immunity, and longevity. Adaptogens are herbs that help strengthen the nervous system, balance cortisol levels, and help the body respond to stress. Examples: holy basil for soothing tiredness and brain fog, ashwagandha for stamina, anxiety, and endurance and low thyroid, cordyceps for true adrenal fatigue burnout, eleuthero for shift workers as it offsets stress on the body and brain, rhodiola for depression. Take away from food in capsule, tea, or tincture form.