Feeling extremely tired, irritable, and having brain fog, fatigue, and trouble losing weight are all common symptoms of adrenal fatigue. And it can be near impossible to live with, especially if you don’t fully understand how to handle it.
Adrenal fatigue is a stress-related condition that many people experience, yet it’s still not widely recognized in the medical community. It can impact a person’s health in many ways and is caused by the disruption of your body’s adrenal glands, which are responsible for making cortisol and other hormones in response to stress.
There are several progressive stages to adrenal fatigue, but most people only reach stages 1, 2, or 3, which I’ll cover here:
In stage 1, the body is responding instantly to a stressor and increases the amount of anti-stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol. This stage is usually fairly mild and the body has enough hormones to control the response, so there are often no noticeable changes in daily function.
In stage 2, levels of cortisol keep rising as the body remains under stress, and levels of DHEA, a precursor hormone that is essential for hormone balance, and other sex hormones begin to decrease. This is when symptoms usually start to show, such as changes in sleep patterns, feeling nervous, having digestive issues, and experiencing body aches.
In stage 3, DHEA levels continue to drop and very high levels of cortisol are present. This can mean the person experiences both exhaustion and heightened anxiety at the same time, often accompanied by panic attacks and possibly sleeplessness. This is often the point where people seek medical help because the symptoms have become more extreme.
Adrenal fatigue is no joke, as the adrenal glands control almost every hormone in the body. So if the adrenals are out of whack, it can cause a lot of issues like the ones described above.
It usually takes between six and 18 months to recover from adrenal fatigue. Although it can depend completely on the person and their situation, there are some natural ways helpful for most people when working to naturally heal adrenal fatigue.
Of course, this is easier said than done. But since stress is a big part of adrenal fatigue, it’s important to identify what areas of your life are causing the biggest problems and work on improving them.
For example, the cause of your stress could include a high-pace, high-stress job, unhealthy home relationship, money stress, or other aspects of life that begin to take a toll over time. Working on ways to alleviate any of these stresses is an important step in healing naturally.
Improve Your Nutrition
Work on eliminating foods that cause inflammation and that you’re sensitive to (such as gluten or dairy) while also increasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods in your diet, including many colorful vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients:
Zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, and selenium are all really important for adrenal function and proper function of the thyroid.
Taking vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and curcumin (a substance in turmeric) supplements can help lower inflammation, which is important for adrenal health.
Get Good Sleep and Rest
Not only do you want to sleep well to recover from adrenal fatigue, you’ll want to focus on going to bed early. Most people get a second surge of cortisol after 11 at night, so getting to sleep before then is really important to keep a regular sleep pattern.
Also, try to get regular rest during the day, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time to breathe and relax your system.
Getting enough water into the cells is also crucial for healing adrenal fatigue. You might even add some natural sea salt, lemon juice, or even a trace mineral supplement to your water to help the body better absorb everything.
Work on Your Mindset
It’s amazing what we can improve just by switching the way we think. And you might want to ask yourself, are my thought processes what drove me into the adrenal stress in the first place? This can often be the case.
If you have trouble slowing down because you’re always worried about getting things perfect or being a “workaholic,” it might be time to work on re-analyzing how you think. Your body is obviously giving you signs that it needs a break, so how can you redefine your mindset to allow yourself more kindness and give yourself that break? Remind yourself that you deserve it.