Stress impacts include:
A decrease of:
Sleep and therefore the restorative processes that occur during sleep
An increase in:
Blood lipids and cholesterol
I get a lot of Women connect with me who basically have no energy reserves left, they are flatlined. They have generally been through a long period of chronic stress and were running off stress hormones, which worked for them. Until it didn’t. Depletion hits. Our bodies don’t have the reserves to continue at that pace and we crash. We always associate stress with outside factors – emotional stress for example but stress can also come from within. I always look at the full picture and take a full health history, to put together a timeline of events, which helps me understand how they got to where they are. We can also test the diurnal cortisol pattern and other stress hormones with a saliva test (samples collected throughout the day/evening to look at the 24 hour pattern). Surgeries, nutrient depletions, food allergies and intolerances and basically all health conditions are a stress on the body also.
Stress starts in the brain, which sends a signal to the adrenal glands, to create stress hormones. Our adrenals are little grape sized glands which sit on top of our kidneys and are the producers of our stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. Sometimes the signals are also picked up by our other glands as well, such as our thyroid and ovaries. This is why stress has such a systemic effect interrupting many body processes.
I treat everyone individually, but these are some of the factors I look out for and address with clients when working on adrenal recovery:
Symptoms of B vitamin deficiency
Symptoms of Magnesium deficiency
Blood Sugar Balance
Cognition and Mental function
Cortisol dysfunction (typically low energy in the morning then completely crashing in the afternoon, maybe even getting a second wind in the evening and not sleeping)
Healing the adrenals
I may be a Nutritionist but I want you to understand that you can not underestimate the importance of lifestyle practices in recovery from chronic stress. I can guide you on restoring physically and replenishing nutrients, to help you build physical resilience to stress, but you will need to work on finding balance in all aspects of life. Identifying all the contributing factors like I have mentioned doing with my clients above will help you understand how you got to where you are. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. Time to make some changes!
- You do not have to be superwoman. If you are continuously running yourself ragged then you will keep going around in circles here. You are healing and you need boundaries. Sure if people are used to you always saying yes some won’t like it when you suddenly start saying no. Often they have not seen healthy boundaries expressed, maybe their parents also lacked boundaries. It is your job to look after yourself.
- You are probably going to have to slow down a lot more then you want to. You would not walk non stop on a broken leg and expect it to heal. You can’t expect to recover from chronic stress when you are constantly pumping out stress hormones. Relying on caffeine or sugar to get through the day will only make things worse in the long run. What goes up must come down right? Normally with a big crash.
- Restorative exercise – Yes you can and should exercise, but it’s really not a great time for you to be signing up for marathons. Walking in nature and yoga are my top choices. Check out the Naturopathic Yoga which I have partnered with. You will get access to a whole series of adrenal specific yoga (and other health conditions) and she will talk you through the science of what you are actually achieving, while you are doing it. If your current exercise regime is not leaving you feeling amazing and giving you the results you expect, then it is time to reassess.
- Breathe baby. Our body’s have not really fully adapted to modern stress in many ways. When we start pumping out stress hormones in our normal day to day lives, from sitting in traffic or whatever sets off our stress hormones, our body basically starts to prepare us to run from danger. When our physical existence is under threat our body’s will do what they can to protect us. This is the fight or flight response. Our body’s are clever, they don’t want to be focusing on reproduction or digestion when in danger. The problem is with chronic daily stress we are not in danger, and we may actually want to relax, digest our food and have normal hormonal function. One of the fastest ways we can communicate to our bodies that we are ok, and the ‘danger’ has passed is to breathe deeply. This is why I love yoga. Yoga incorporates movement (including resistance exercise) and breathwork. It is your daily reminder to take that time to down regulate your stress response.
Stress is not in itself an entirely bad thing. A bit of stress helps us meet deadlines and get stuff done. The problems occur when our bodies do not have the resources (vitamins and minerals for example) to call upon or when we get stuck in that state, and do not make the effort to ‘switch off’ and replenish.
I hope this has helped. I love working with Women, one on one to restore their mojo, and help them thrive in all aspects of life. If you are ready to feel better, then check out the ways we can work together here.