Do you ever feel like your body’s check engine light has been on and you’re still driving it like “nah, it’ll be fine?”
As you can tell from the picture on the left, I was totally guilty of this one. I pushed myself past my breaking point for YEARS, and you know where I ended up? With adrenal fatigue.There is way more to adrenal fatigue than just being tired. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include: insomnia, feeling wired but tired, brain fog, difficulty coping with stress, craving salty foods, body aches, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, low energy (usually around 3 pm), startling easily, and getting dizzy upon standing. I’ve personally experienced ALL of these (sometimes all at the same time). When cortisol (our stress hormone) is elevated, it causes our adrenal glads to work overtime. The reality is that we don’t just wake up one day with adrenal fatigue. The root of it lies in our everyday behaviors.
For me, it was my career as an elementary school teacher that was the turning point. I taught a population of high poverty students who experienced a great deal of trauma and their life circumstances and behaviors became very difficult for me to cope with. As a highly sensitive person, I was unknowingly absorbing all of my student’s emotions and issues. I had a very difficult time separating myself from them. This left me feeling completely depleted each and every day. I was exhausted yet, I tossed and turned at night and my brain would not turn off. I would wake up the next morning feeling like I never slept. My body ached and could barely function. I remember multiple times being so incredibly exhausted while I was teaching that I completely forgot mid sentence what I was saying to my students (so embarrassing!) After lunch each day my body would literally crash. I could barely keep my eyes open to teach math. To this day, I have no idea how I managed to push through most of those days.
Day after day for 5 years, I continued to not listen to my body. I didn’t take care for myself. I made everyone and everything else a priority but MYSELF. My type-A personality felt the need to push myself until everything looked and felt “perfect.” These behaviors ultimately perpetuated my adrenal fatigue. I am no longer in the teaching profession, but have the utmost respect for those who can find the balance to make the career work for them ( you are a saint!) Whatever your profession is, we always have a choice to put ourselves FIRST. There is no career or job that is EVER worth sacrificing your health over.
Let’s switch gears for a second and talk about exercise in relation to your adrenals. As someone who used to love hot yoga, spin class, and Barre classes, I quickly realized that these made my adrenals worse. I would immediately feel anxious and it would take me a very long time to recover after doing these activities. Doing intense exercise while having adrenal fatigue is like trying to run a marathon after going on a 5 mile hike. Your body will scream NO THANK YOU!
So what has helped me navigate my adrenal fatigue? The number one thing that has helped me manage my adrenal fatigue symptoms is putting my health and well-being FIRST. Here are some other things that help me heal my adrenals:
- Saying no to people, places, and events that no longer serve me
- Vitamin C
- Holy Basil
- Yin Yoga
- Epsom Salt Bath
- The Empath’s Survival Guide-Life Strategies for Sensitive People
Let me be state the disclaimer that supplements for adrenal fatigue are designed to be used in conjunction with making healthier career, relationship, and overall lifestyle choices and are not a replacement or a “quick fix” to recovering. I also want to point out that it’s important to avoid coffee, alcohol, and sugar if you have adrenal fatigue as these can make your symptoms worse. Also, eating small meals/snacks high in protein/low in sugar throughout the day keeps your blood sugar stable and calms your adrenals.
Today, I am more in tune with my body and can tell when my adrenals are starting to go off the deep end. My adrenals have done a lot of healing since making changes in my life and they are always communicating with me when I start to over- extend myself. When I can feel this happen, I ask myself, what changes do I need to make? What do I need to say no to? When you make your mental, physical, and emotional health a priority, your body will follow suit.
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