Stress: all day, every day.
Every workday my brain is not allowed 3 minutes to slow down, if it does I may not react as quick as I need to when lives are on the line. The calls do not stop, every call is important to a caller so I have to be at the top of my game. No, I may not think that the iphone charger stolen from a car is a big deal, but the victim had their personal space invaded upon and to them this a tragedy. Listening to a child scream because dad will not wake up for 20 minutes until responders get there is an obvious stress, but I must stick that in the back of my mind so that I can talk to the next person about the traffic lights that are running slow…..this is every day, some days for 15 hours. My outlet time is a minimum because trying to fit in a workout or decompress time is near impossible on a work day….
I am not alone, so many others in our society feel this stress. We see the toll it takes on our bodies, the obsessive honking if someone will not move quick enough at a green light or the infamous finger given while driving down the freeway. Since when did the delay of 2 minutes cause our society to react with such aggression? When I honestly reflect upon my own behavior I am the lady who is eating a sandwich as quickly as possible, texting on my phone, drinking my water and telling my kids to eat their dinner (usually peanut butter and honey) while driving from one activity to another. I am sleep deprived, have stuck my crap work days in their tiny suitcases in my brain, and am operating on adrenaline. How much longer can I do this for?
Well…10 years is the magic answer for me. An amtrak train ran me over at full speed (well not literally…) and I have adrenal exhaustion. I should have known this was coming, I am mildly educated in the world of nutrition. When I could barely lift my arms because they were so heavy I just assumed I had the flu, when I started to gain weight I assumed it was all the salt from the salty food I craved, the loss of sex drive just seemed a natural consequence of the weight gain. But when I could not recover from a cold for almost 6 months I finally realized that something had to change….my ND had a ” come to Jesus” talk with me about my lifestyle. And I cried, I cried a lot. Everything became too hard to cope with, fortunately I was able to hide all these tears until I got home….my poor hubs and kids. I also yelled at everything, everything was a big deal. I just could not cope anymore, laying in bed was the only desirable option. Sleep was a mythical unicorn that I just could not seem to catch.
I am not alone, I know this. Working shift work where stress just gets shoved in a suitcase and stuck in the luggage compartment of the brain builds in our bodies. Stress causes cortisol levels to elevate which causing the anti inflammatory effect that regulates the immune system to become too strong. This causes the immune system to not work as it should (i.e. 6 months to recover from a cold). These are signs of the early signs of adrenal fatigue, listen to them. This is your body’s way of saying it needs a break! I could get into the breakdown of the hormones and glands, but instead I will just recommend reading Dr. Wilson’s book Adrenal fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.
The mythical creature called sleep
Time to clean out the pantry and fridge (and anything hiding in the freezer)…
Get rid of the processed food!
Start eating a healthy breakfast before 10am (or if a shift worker, within a hour of waking)
Eat an early lunch
Eat a healthy snack before bed
Add some high quality celtic sea salt to your diet (unless you have high blood pressure, which is rare for adrenal fatigue)
At every meal have- high quality protein, fat, complex carbs (like sprouted grains)
Good quality protein (not processed lunch meats)- proteins are better when lightly cooked or raw (obviously use cooking guidelines before eating raw meat)
Veggies- eat 6-8 servings of multi colored veggies, think red, yellow, orange, purple…eat some raw, some steamed, some grilled, etc. Give yourself variety!
Go light on fruit. Avoid high sugar fruits like: bananas, dried fruits, dates, figs, oranges, and grapefruits
Stay away or minimize your caffeine (do not kill the messenger!)
Stay away from alcohol, this is high in sugar and will slow down your healing process.
Just the diet?
The diet can be the hardest part so I like tearing into that one first (yes, I also enjoy ripping off band-aids)….
Lets start with what I thought was going to be impossible for a working mom who averaged 60 hour work weeks-
20 minutes a day for YOU! Lock the kids in the closet (I am kidding), shut off your phone, and quiet your mind. If you have to schedule this time in then fine…but get it done. The same amount of time that we all average on social media could be used to heal you. I promise these 20 minutes will bring you greater sanity then updating facebook or checking out the latest selfies on instagram.
What do I do for 20 minutes? Take a quiet walk, sit in the sun, turn all noise off and listen to the magical sound of your breathing and think about how grateful you are that the breath is coming in and out of you.
Start to smile more…are you driving and barely breathing? Have you worn out the sides of your mouth because you are chewing on them? Do you find your resting facial position being in a frown? Consciously change it, in time it will become natural….plus as you age smile lines are much hotter than frown lines!
Get support. Communicate the illness to others, it is more widespread then you can believe. Talk to others, let them know what you are going through. Ask for help, you do not need the perfect pintrest house with the perfectly toned selfie worthy ass, with the latest pintrest outfit. Define what your goals are this week and keep it simple….my kids ate this week and were on time to school. BAM, I am a rockstar! Do I care that my son wore a tank top and dirty shorts to his 5th grade “graduation”…no, because it is not worth it. My health is not worth me stressing about the little things.
Dear adrenals, lets work again
Adrenal fatigue and adrenal exhaustion are scary, they can lead to disease. I highly recommend if you are experiencing any of the below symptoms that you consult a ND, MD, or a medical professional with adrenal experience. A nutritional therapist can help regulate your dietary and supplemental needs to help with the healing process.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Asthma, allergies or respiratory complaints
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Dry skin
- Extreme tiredness an hour after exercise
- Frequent urination
- Joint pain
- Lines in your fingertips
- Loss of muscle tone
- Low blood pressure
- Low blood sugar
- Low sex drive
- Lower back pain
- Numbness in your fingers / Poor circulation
- Weight gain
In good health,
Ali Anderson, NTP