I gotta say, with not alotta excitement here, that it seems to me almost everyone is either in the midst of adrenal fatigue, on the train stopping nowhere but adrenal fatigue station, knows someone who is already there and having no fun, or has been there themselves... but no-one is talking about it. This is not so cool in my books. Why is this so common these days? I can answer that too - stress, work demands, family life, women-who-give-all, putting others first - all the time, more pollution, more chemicals, more food intolerances, more allergies, more pressure to do/be/have, the list goes on...
When a kinesiologist once told me I was in "Stage 3 adrenal exhaustion; next stop chronic fatigue" my only thought was "oh crap; my step-dad has that and he's always tired". No one I worked with, nor the kinesiologist had warned me or even told me what might be in-store if I didn't change things up a bit. So thinking I was doing the right thing, I bought a bottle of AdrenoTone capsules, finished them, and figured everything was hunky-dorey. Boy was I wrong.
The 2 1/2 years following that have been the past 2 1/2 years of my life. Initially it wasn't too bad as I didn't think anything was wrong. But then it began. From August 2011 things started going downhill.
Feeling sleepy. Exhausted. Tiredness that sleep doesn't fix. Memory losses. Inability to concentrate. Appetite changes. Complete inability to exercise (I left my gym membership February 2012 and haven't walked into one since). Mood swings. Food cravings for salt, fat and sugars (what my adrenals need). Eating crappy foods. Weight gain. Then liver problems. Stomach problems. All whilst feeling I never had enough energy (you can read more about my healing from posts I wrote back here and here)
So before anyone else gets to the point I was at, I really want to stress that it is not a fun place, and recovery isn't overnight. It's slow and steady. Two steps forward one step back. But of course it's do-able.
Here are my best tips to sail smoothly through adrenal fatigue and exhaustion (which are also great preventative measures) --
+ Sleep; get your booty in bed at 930pm each night and wake up when you feel you've slept enough. On days you need to set your alarm, then do so. But when you can afford not too; then don't. Nap in the day if you can and if your body wants it. These are the sweet spots that make your whole world different.
+ Forget exercise; forget everything you have ever learned about it being necessary to stay healthy. All that will only work against you right now. If today you feel like a walk, go for it. If tomorrow you feel like running; go for a walk. If next week you feel like doing nothing; do nothing. You need to take each day (or each half day) as it comes in regards to exercise. I always liked to plan out my week with exercise included, as it made me feel like it was already getting done and I was a fit chic. This only led to disappointment and frustration when I couldn't actually do any of the physical activity I had planned. A month ago I was happily walking every morning. The past 3 weeks, I've done a morning walk maybe twice. I can't stress this one enough; do ONLY what feels good for your body; not your head.
+ Eat amazing foods; when we feel tired, exhausted and crappy, the last thing we often feel like is a delicious steamed salmon steak with fresh greens... or an organic omelet with mushies and tomato. But these are the kinds of foods that we will be thankful for having eaten, tomorrow morning when we wake up. Not for the lack of guilt factor, but because we will wake with a little more energy. A little more oomf. If we do the whole processed-food-quick-fix we feel sh*t. Our bodies don't get any of the nutrients it needs to function at a basic level, let alone at times when we know we need extra. If you know you're really struggling with this, enlist the help of your partner, a house mate, sister or neighbour. If you live in a major city, there are tonnes of healthy catering services available to you. On the flip side to this, if you think you're Superwoman and making restaurant-quality-fresh-meals and this is tiring you out even more; get back to basics or again, hire the help of someone to do it for you.
+ Drink enough water; dehydration is the first thing to make us feel tired and lethargic. If you've got fatigue going on, you already know what that feels like. You don't need any more getting you down. Drink up sister!
+ Ditch your coffee habit; I mean it. If you're way passed stressed and clearly in exhaustion camp, the coffee has got to go! This is not to say that you can never drink it again, but for now, it's without a doubt making your life a whole lot harder. I know you think it's your lifesaver and the only thing that makes you function, but (warning) after a few days of hell (so start this on a Friday or Saturday), you will have so much more clarity of thought, a lighter step in your walk, and be on your way to nixing this fatigue for good. I did try to coax my system into figuring out a way to use the stuff for good and not evil; by only drinking it in the mornings to see if the caffeine would mimic my cortisol cycle (high in the morning) but I'm not sure it had the effect I had hoped. Alternatively... and I say this with caution as I'm only looking into it myself right now, look up "bulletproof coffee" and see how that sits with you.
+ Do something YOU love, for YOU; this totally sounds cliche or bullsh*t and I get it; I used to think the exact same thing. How does that have anything to do with fatigue? Sister I'm here to tell you this is the missing piece almost! When we are fatigued and exhausted, every thing seems hard. Very little is enjoyable as it takes everything outta us, and we struggle to get the very minimal done, let alone the stuff we actually want to do. But here's the trick; when we start doing the stuff we absolutely love to do, we light up. We feel happier. We even look better. And then everything seems do-able. And we decide to plonk ourself to bed earlier. And make roast veg instead of getting Thai take away. It doesn't have to be stuff that takes a whole day and then makes us feel crappy for getting nothing else done. I'm talking little things (coz it's all about the little things isn't it?). I luuurve time in bed watching a TED talk. I feel uber excited after these love dates. I also lurve holding my fav crystal ball for even a second, with my eyes closed, in between typing out assessments. A movie night on the couch with my B. An early night to read under the doona. Or a break at the cafe people-watching instead of brewing my same cup at home. It can be anything and will be coz it's all about YOU.
|Like a good book, magazine, and some Mojo - mmm -|
+ Work out why you're where you are and address that; it's not enough to just sleep more, eat well, ditch coffee and enjoy some simple pleasures. You also have to come to see WHY you are where you are and heal that. Are you working for a slave-driving boss 60hrs a week? Is your partner robbing your energy? Are you unhappy since moving house and trying to please everyone? These must also be looked at so you can begin to feel alive and as though you are functioning again. I'm about addressing the CAUSE and not merely band-aiding the symptoms. So this means getting deep into why you are fatigued and exhausted. Sure it might just be a lack of sleep why you're tired, but keep this up, add some stressors and you're walking down exhaustion alley. Not the place you want to be.
If you've got something else that works wonders for fatigue and exhaustion, please share it below. I would love to know and I'm sure others will benefit from it as well.
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