During my final semester of college, I was an awkward blend of hyper, dopey and sleepy. I enrolled in 21 hours that semester, forcing myself into a schedule which eventually caused me to feel stretched far too thin.
I began functioning on three to four hours of sleep per night, fueling my body with fast food, consuming absurd amounts of coffee, all while working grueling events on my feet as a makeup artist and remaining adamant about maintaining an active social life. I have disturbingly fond memories of snacking on dark chocolate covered espresso beans in class, and likely had enough empty cans of red bull on the floor board of my car to fill an entire recycling facility. It wasn’t a good look.
During that time, I felt as though my entire system was on overdrive. I recall trying to sleep at night and feeling as though my heart was pounding angrily in my chest. Convincing my overactive and over-scheduled mind to quiet and relax seemed an impossible task. I was often on edge, tense and uptight. I was an overactive and exhausted energy ball on the brink of spontaneously combusting. Sleep eluded me, and I woke each day feeling as though my head existed in a fog.
Allow me to provide my simplest, yet most accurate depiction:
Overactive Mind→Restless Night→Good Morning, Zombie…→Medicate with Caffeine+Fuel With Bad Food+Overactive Mind→Restless Night…
…and the cycle continued for days, weeks and eventually months. My stressed adrenals were crying out and begging for even a simple moment of relief. So, I had to take a meeting with them. I sought help from an integrative doctor, and learned what was happening. My body was simply asking me to give it a break.
Meet Your Adrenals
Your adrenal glands rest just above your kidneys. They are responsible for secreting adrenaline during stressful “fight or flight” situations, making them a key part of the network of your body’s stress response system. However, they are also responsible for releasing hormones which are essential for you to live. It is very important for your overall health that your adrenals are in a healthy state of functioning. Stress, negativity, repeated use of stimulants, and lack of adequate sleep are quite stressful to the adrenal glands.
During my experience with adrenal stress, I learned something very simple, yet life-altering:
The miraculous human body, along with the many gifts nature provides to us, is equipped to heal all on its own, once we stop interfering with the natural process.
Young or old, big or small, male or female; If you wake each day feeling like a zombie, I don’t want that to be a reality for you anymore! Although I am no longer nearly as fragile, dopey or sleeply as I was a few years ago, I continue to take an active approach in caring for my adrenal glands. When I consume too much coffee or alcohol, or skimp on sleep, my body warns me.
Drink coffee in excess or use stimulants on a daily basis?
Eat sugary, over-processed foods often?
Function on very little sleep for extended periods of time?
Engage in relationships with people who cause you high levels of stress?
Have a high-stress school or work environment?
Experience negative emotions on a regular basis?
Overtrain when exercising?
If any of the above questions apply to you, it is possible your adrenal glands are in need of some pampering and relief. It doesn’t matter if you are only 15 years old or 45 years old. It is possible that abuse and misuse of your adrenal glands can develop negative repercussions very early in life.
B Vitamins are crucial for adrenal function. I continue to take a B-complex daily, and I feel the difference when I skip it. In addition to improving my energy levels and adrenal balance, I find I hold less tension in my body when I am consistent with taking b vitamins.
There are no words to express my fondness and gratitude for the beloved root of the maca plant. It is an adaptogen, and is an excellent plant-based source of vitamin b12. Whether you are male or female, maca will very likely improve a multitude of areas in your life. You can read more about my experience with maca here. I add it to smoothies almost daily.
Ashwagandha has a calming, soothing effect on the body, but without causing actual drowsiness. The best way to describe the effect it provides is to say it creates a feeling of peaceful energy. It reduces anxiety while increasing alertness, as well as improving the body’s reaction time. For example, while in the height of my adrenal issues, it was as though I was in a constant “fight or flight” response state while driving. If I saw a car moving over into my lane in traffic, I had a frantic “knee-jerk” type of reaction. When I began taking ashwagandha, I noticed my reaction time was even quicker, but calmer and more controlled. It was by far one of the most helpful supplements in my regimen during that period.
Meditation and Yoga
Meditation and yoga are phenomenal for quieting the mind. I find yoga to be one of the most therapeutic practices for preventing my adrenals from “freaking out” on me the way they once did. Yoga challenges my strength while forcing me to focus my attention away from any negative issues I may be dealing with. While performing yoga, I am challenging my body while calming and centering my mind and spirit.
I truly believe that focusing on external factors alone (such as diet, exercise, etc) will not ever provide your body with complete health. It is absolutely essential to also nourish the mind. Oftentimes, the first step in nourishing the mind is quieting it.
Photo by Tambako the Jaguar
This is last on the list, but is by far the most important step you can take to ensure health of your adrenal glands and assist you in returning to an energized state of being. You must sleep. Our bodies are designed to follow a natural cycle of sleeping, with the most important sleeping hours being between 10 pm and 2 am. I realize this is not always possible, especially if you are going out or have a job which requires you to work evening shifts. Still, you should try to sleep during those prime hours as often as possible.
Below are a few links for more information about the adrenal glands and steps you can take to take better care of yours:
This is an informative and well-written article on adrenal fatigue.
Here is a link to Dr. Mercola’s advice on how to care for the adrenals.
Here is a quiz you can take to begin the path of determining if adrenal fatigue is an issue for you.
Adrenal Fatigue Solution is an awesome website to check out. If you have adrenal fatigue, it will tell you everything you need to know to heal yourself!
©TheDailyDoll.com/Lacey Johnson 2014