Being on the go 24/7, pushing yourself, working to meet deadlines along with family commitments etc. may be ok for a short time however, over a long period of time besides being an extremely out-of-touch way of living and ‘doing’, it can be detrimental to our health both physically and mentally.
Our bodies are home to two little glands that side above our kidneys called Adrenals. They maybe little however, they sure do pack a punch and contribute substantially to our overall health in particular our hormonal health. Our adrenals are part of a much bigger system called the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA-axis)—our adrenals influence:
Blood sugar control
Now, that pretty much sums up nearly all the workings in our body that are required for us to feel healthy, happy and vital.
One of the major functions of our adrenal glands is to respond to ALL types of stress. Just stop and think about what forms stress presents itself in; we have physical, mental and emotional and perceived stress. When we have ongoing stress in our lives our bodies are put under strain as they continue to work on making sure all our systems are functioning as optimally as possible, as well as dealing with any stress that presents itself to us.
The HPA-axis is usually ‘turned off’ or de-activated after a stressor has presented and been dealt with. However, in our modern world there is more and more chronic stress that is plaguing our minds and bodies. Hence, this negative feedback loop where by the HPA-axis is switched off after dealing with stress is happening less and less and cortisol is being pumped out over long periods of time, eventually creating health issues. Eventually the HPA-axis can’t keep up with the demand of cortisol leading to ‘adrenal fatigue syndrome’, a collection of symptoms such as;
• Waking up unrested
• Decrease ability to handle stress
• Brain fog or decreased cognitive ability
• Dizziness when standing from sitting or lying down
• Low sex drive
• Increased severity of allergic responses
• Low blood pressure
• Low blood sugar
There are however, ways in which we can keep our stress at bay or at least bring it down to a level whereby, our adrenals aren’t becoming so exhausted that they are no longer able to function properly.
One way, and I know I go on about this quite a lot but it’s with good reason— creating space and stillness in your day. Think about it, when we rise to our beeping alarm clock our bodies and mind are going all day long, from showering, getting breakfast, meals ready for school/work, sitting in traffic, work meetings, deadlines, picking kids up from school, after school errands, getting dinner ready, fitting in time for movement, family time. As you can see the list could go on. So, here is a list of practices that can help to support your adrenals and keep your cortisol functioning in a way that helps to mitigate ongoing chronic stress and doesn’t see you hitting rock bottom both physically and mentally. Here is the caveat; these stress-busting practices are not a once off thing you do every now and then. In order for our body to move out of chronic stress mode, there needs to be consistency in these practices—see them as things you can do that will enable you to live a full and vital life, with the energy you deserve.
6 other ways that will help you combat stress and take the pressure off of those little adrenals:
1. Meditation: The art of focusing and being present in a given moment. For me, this looks like sitting in stillness and listening to a guided Chakra Cleanse Meditation or sitting in silence focusing on my deep belly breathing. Start small (5-10minutes) per day and work towards spending 20 minutes in a focused, meditative practice each day. Other examples of focused practice could be drawing, colouring, dance, and knitting.
2. Journaling: I like to do this after meditating however; it can be done anywhere and at any time of day. I find when the mind is clear after meditating it gives room for more downloads to come through, for the flow of your thoughts, goals and desires to come forth, from pen to paper. It calls for the heart to lead and guide you, creating content that allows for more peace and a sense of release. Some call it ‘brain dumping’—I liken it to speaking or writing what is calling to be expressed and seen you. Just like meditation, start small and build up. Some days you may find you have lots to write and spend 30 minutes journaling; other days may be just 10 minutes. It’s important to just go with what feels ‘right’ for you at the time.
3. Gentle movement: I say gentle because, when our body is chronically stressed and in ‘fight or flight’ mode, high intensity movement will only create more stress on the body. Opting for more gentle practices like Yoga, walking outdoors, or Pilates will not only help the stress you are feeling both physically and mentally. It will allow your body to feel more grounded, your mind to create a new focus in the present moment along with more stable blood sugar levels –due to your body not working extra hard to create new glucose for energy and therefore, your blood sugar levels dipping thus creating further stress and activating the HPA-axis yet again.
4. Social connection: Spending time with friends and family, feeling supported and surrounding yourself with positive people who can be present with you, have a laugh and are there to listen and hold space for you. At the same time it’s just as important to limit connections with those that don’t lift you up and who emit toxic energy. I find with people such as this, the best and kindest thing to do for them and you is to send them love and compassion, wish them well and then just let them go.
5. Reframing: Whilst stress is often deemed as ‘bad’, it is part of life that we each have to deal with. Within all situations in life there are positive teachings that we can learn from. It is this reframing or tilt in perspective we can often help to change the trajectory of our stress levels and in turn our health. It may mean seeking out a coach or holistic counselor to talk to in order to help in this process. Perhaps you are able to realize that your health taking a downward spiral has heightened your awareness as to how disconnected and stressed you have been in your life, and you come to understand things need to change in-order to live happier and healthier.
6. Social Media Fast: Perhaps with your mind already full to the brim scrolling through social media to try and keep up with the latest fad/diet/exercise regime etc. isn’t doing you any favours. Taking a break from social media will allow more space in your mind and day and will take off the pressure we often put on ourselves to do more, be more and achieve more—never really feeling that we are enough just as we are. Putting a limit on the time spent on social media maybe a way to ease you in before going on a fast. Give it a go as you will be pleasantly surprised how much more time you have in your day, how much more present you are and discover just how much added stress it has been putting on your mind and body.
How awesome is it to know that we have the ability to help nourish these little walnut sized organs, our adrenals, by implementing stress-reduction practices that not only decrease our stress levels but make for a happier, healthier and more vital person and life.
This just one way we can nurture our adrenals, obviously what we consume through food and our lifestyle impact our adrenal health too, however, from personal experience and through what I have read from the literature and my studies, stress-reduction practices play a major role in the health of our adrenals.
P.S I would love to hear how you have gone with implementing these stress-busting practices. What has helped? Has there been any blocks come up that have prevented you from implementing them? How did you work through these blocks? Comment below or, email at firstname.lastname@example.org.