Adrenal fatigue is not something you’ll hear as a diagnosis from your doctor, and it is connected to the struggle of your adrenal glands to cope with the stress and strain of our overly busy lives.
It is characterized by feeling dull, burnt out and overworked and it is only diagnosed by doctors when it surpasses the fourth stage, known as adrenal insufficiency. Your job is not to allow your body to suffer to that extent and take appropriate steps to prevent adrenal fatigue as early as possible.
The main culprit behind adrenal fatigue is the constant stress we are experiencing, and if proper steps are not taken to detox that stress, your adrenal glands can do very little in the combat against it.
Here are 8 symptoms you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue and how you can combat them:
1. Inability to sleep
Many of us choose to sacrifice the precious sleep time to finish off some of the things we have on our schedule. However, lack of sleep leads to a disrupted function of the brain and organs, and it leads to the inability to fall or stay asleep.
The stress your body is under when not given enough sleep causes major disruptions and throws us off balance, so introducing a healthy sleeping pattern is paramount for the prevention of adrenal fatigue.
Set a regular wake-up and go-to-bed time and follow it no matter what. The best time to go to bed is before midnight, and being in complete darkness (or in a room that isn’t illuminated by screens that emit blue light) is a way you can trigger your sleeping hormone – melatonin.
If you find it hard to fall asleep, doing some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or taking a warm bath with calming essential oils are just some of the things that can help you relax.
2. Feeling exhausted after workouts
Although feeling tired after it may seem like a normal thing, physical exercise should, in fact, make you feel energized. The reason you may be feeling exhausted after exercise is the physical stress you are putting your body through.
No matter what goal you’re trying to achieve, putting your body under increased physical stress will strain your adrenal glands, and you will only achieve the opposite result of what physical exercise is designed to achieve.
If you feel exhausted after workouts, the best thing to do is to switch to a gentler form of exercise, like walking, stretching, or yoga. You should know that exercise is designed to make you feel better and more active, and weight loss is primarily caused by proper nutrition.
3. Hormonal imbalances
When you reach stage 2 adrenal fatigue, your thyroid may start suffering its effects, creating unfavorable symptoms of a hypothyroid, such as weight gain, poor circulation, fatigue, and dry hair and skin.
The hormonal imbalance is due to the overwhelming stress levels with which your adrenal glands cannot keep up, so the precursor material for hormones gets redirected in the production of cortisol.
Long-term stress may also cause delays in the menstrual cycle and an increase in PMS symptoms. In general, hormonal imbalance is an unpleasant experience and it is required that you take on a more nourishing diet, adaptogenic herbs, increased water intake, eliminate caffeine and get some adequate sleep.
4. Anxiety and depression
Adrenal fatigue can lead to increased anxiety and symptoms of depression, as the stress levels become overwhelming not only for the body but for the mind too. The adrenal hormones are involved in the function of our mood, cognitive abilities, and mental states, and the lack thereof causes mental imbalances.
Give yourself a green light to simply take a step back and dedicate more time for yourself, as no matter what you need to do, you won’t be able to do anything if you fall into the abyss of adrenal fatigue.
5. Increased cravings for salt
During adrenal fatigue, the production of aldosterone (the salt-retaining hormone) is decreased, and this causes a mineral deficiency in your body. Your increased craving for salt is a way your body is trying to combat this.
The lack of the necessary minerals is characterized by cravings for salt, low blood pressure, dizziness and lightheadedness upon standing, and heart palpitations. It’s paramount that you increase your mineral intake in your diet during this period.
You can do this by adding mineral drops to your filtered water, adding Himalayan pink salt in your food, and using seaweeds such as nori, dulse, and kelp.
6. Stiffness and soreness
A sign that your body isn’t getting a full recharge because of the increased stress is feeling stiff and sore. The most common places affected by stress are your back, neck, or jaw. To relieve these symptoms, try to optimize your sleep habits and do more stretching or yoga.
Warm baths with anti-inflammatory blends that contain magnesium is also a great way to soothe, detox, and balance your body.
7. Relying on too much caffeine to get you through the day
It’s important to notice that coffee doesn’t give you energy as much as you are borrowing that energy from it. Having adrenal fatigue makes mornings especially difficult to cope with, but drinking too much coffee results in retaining stress in your body, as the caffeine keeps your body in stress mode and signals the production of stress hormones such as epinephrine and cortisol.
While some would argue that coffee isn’t necessarily bad, relying too much on coffee is harmful, and it’s especially important that you cut down on it during the recharge period. In this period, you should turn to herbal teas, such as mint, dandelion root, or holy basil.
8. Disrupted digestion
Stress doesn’t allow the body to focus on achieving optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, despite how healthy your food is. In adrenal fatigue mode, functions like metabolism and digestion are downregulated, and the likelihood of you being bloated after eating is increased.
This disrupted digestion and metabolism result in weight gain, indigestion, and constipation or diarrhea. Drinking enough water, lemon water, taking enough minerals and probiotics, and savoring your meals are just some ways you can improve your digestion.