In today's Information Age, people are living busier lives than ever, which is leading to more mental and physical stress. All of our advances in technology should make life easier, but it seems to have the opposite effect. We now have more distractions and demands on our time than ever before. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic fatigue every year. Chronic fatigue is a serious condition that can have devastating effects on the body if left untreated. The good news is that there are simple steps that you can take to manage your stress and prevent chronic fatigue.
What is stress?
Stress is neither good nor bad, but is an internal or external force on the body that results in a physiological response. Stress can be mental, physical, or emotional. Some examples are working too many hours, not enough rest, poor eating habits, relationship problems, or even trying to escape from a burning building. The type of stress is not as important as how your body responds to stress and how you manage it.
How Stress Effects the Body
The human body is amazing at adapting to stressful situations. Our ability to make physiological changes to adapt to stress is what helps us survive life threatening situations. You may be familiar with the term "fight or flight". This is what happens when you are faced with a life or death situation. Your body will make changes to either fight for your life, or to run as fast as you can. Your breathing increases to take in more oxygen. The heart begins to beat faster, directing blood to the muscles. Your senses are heightened. All of these bodily functions are controlled by the adrenal glands that secrete over 50 different hormones to make the necessary changes for survival. The adrenal glands are small organs that sit on top of the kidneys. Under short term situations the adrenal glands do a great job of managing the body's response to stress. However, they do not fare so well at managing chronic stress. Many people who suffer from chronic stress experience the effects of hormone imbalance caused by adrenal fatigue.
Signs of Adrenal Fatigue
- You feel tired for no reason.
- You have trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Afternoon "crash". Require caffeinate drinks to wake up.
- You feel more awake, alert and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.
- You are feeling rundown or overwhelmed.
- You have difficulty recovering from stress or illness.
- You crave salty and sweet snacks.
- Mild depression
- Muscular weakness
- Increased allergies
- Lightheadedness when standing up
- Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
- Decreased sex drive
Treating Adrenal Fatigue
If you are suffering from some or all of these symptoms, then you are not alone. Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue. The sad part is that most people think it is normal to always be tired. It's not normal and there is something that you can do about it.
- Healthy diet
- Nothing will put more stress on your body like a diet full of junk food. Cut out the sugars and processed foods from your diet and not only will you lose weight, but you will start to have more energy.
- Even if you have a healthy diet, you still may not be getting all of the nutrients that you need for a healthy adrenal gland. A good adrenal support supplement can help to promote a healthy adrenal gland and to eliminate the symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
- Regular exercise
- Although exercise is technically stress on the body, it is a good form of stress that can help your body erase negative stress. Regular exercise has numerous positive side effects on your overall health and well-being.
- Plenty of Sleep
- Your body does most of its repairs and maintenance when you are in a deep sleep. If you are feeling tired and run down all the time start practicing good sleep habits. There are many experts out there that will tell you that you need anywhere from 6 to 10 hours of sleep per night. The truth is that everyone's body is different. Some people can function off of 6 hours of sleep, where as others may need 8 or 9. You have to find what makes you feel the most rested.
- Practice Deep Breathing
- Deep breathing and meditation have been proven to lower your blood pressure and improve mental clarity. If you are feeling stressed out, take 5 minutes to close your eyes, take deep breaths, and focus on positive thoughts. You will be amazed at the renewed energy that you feel afterwards.
- Express Your Feelings
- The first step in managing stress is to be able to identify what is causing your stress. Try writing in a journal to help you figure out certain times of day or events that induce stress. Once you have done this, then you can start to prevent those events from happening. If you're not one for writing, then try talking to someone that you trust. The act of verbalizing your frustrations can be very stress relieving in itself.
- Make Time for Yourself
- A lot of stress can come from the daily demands and expectations placed on you by others. You may feel like you have a million things to do for everyone else. Start to carve out time in your daily schedule to do something that you enjoy and helps you to relax. It can be exercise, a hobby, reading, or even getting a relaxing massage.
Start by following these seven steps and you will be on your way to having more energy. If you feel like your condition may be more serious, then you may want to consult a physician who understands and can identify adrenal fatigue. Just know that there are resources out there to help you get your life back.