21st Century Fatigue

During and after periods of prolonged moderate stress or intensely stressful events we can sometimes be left feeling tired, unresponsive, and uncharacteristically irritable. The symptoms may manifest as experiencing sluggish starts to the day, the 4 o'clock low, and an inability to get to sleep.

These periods and moments of distress actually bring about physical changes in your body and a consequence of these changes includes the symptoms listed above. Upon visiting your GP complaining of low mood or an inability to sleep, you may be told you are depressed, they are likely to prescribe apparently mood lifting pills or sleeping pills but unfortunately these medications don't deal with the real issue at hand that is not recognised widely by the NHS as a very real epidemic that is taking hold of a nation trying to take on more and more stress on a daily basis.

This epidemic is known as adrenal fatigue and refers to the adrenal glands; the adrenals are walnut sized glands that sit on top of our kidneys. They have multiple roles producing a variety of hormones including cortisol, adrenaline, testosterone and oestrogen.

The fatigue occurs when one function of your adrenals starts to outweigh the others- Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory hormone released when our bodies come under some kind of stress, an intense or prolonged period of stress will require lots of cortisol and whilst your body is normally able to provide the elevated cortisol required to cope with the stress, the other hormones produced by the adrenals like testosterone and oestrogen start to decline so your body is sent out of balance. This will manifest as a decreased sex drive, lethargy and increased PMS or menopausal problems.

Another reaction to an imbalance of the adrenal glands is the affect on our circadian rhythm, we are naturally predisposed to sleep at night and be awake during the day and our energy naturally has waves through the day largely controlled by the release of cortisol and adrenaline whose role it is to wake us up. Naturally cortisol levels will peak first thing in the morning allowing us to spring out of bed and the levels of these hormones ideally will tail off from when the sun is highest in the sky until you go to bed, but when adrenal fatigue occurs you may struggle to actually feel awake before 10am, once awake the natural ebb and flow of energy through the day is amplified and taken to the extremes of tiredness and hyperactivity.

The natural dip in energy everybody feels at 4pm is magnified and that much greater than when your vitality is good, you may also feel a burst of energy at around 6pm as you recover from your afternoon lull, unfortunately this burst of adrenaline and cortisol does not make winding down for a good nights sleep very easy and you are likely to feel tired but restless around 9 or 10pm but push through until 11pm when you have another second wind until the early hours of the morning. Even if you go to bed at 10pm you may find it difficult to rest if your day has followed a similar pattern to this. The whole process is a vicious circle of events that only emphasises and deepens the adrenal fatigue.

Stress is inevitable in life and the level of stress load upon us determines whether we become stronger because of it or are adversely affected. To overcome and recover from adrenal fatigue it is important to understand where our stress comes from- in the 21st century, stress comes from all angles and we expect ourselves to cope with a greater demand than ever before. Stress can be physical, chemical, electromagnetic, psychic/mental, nutritional or thermal. It is the total load of all these factors that determines whether we will get healthier or less healthy.

The stress load becoming too high to manage leads to an overstimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, this is responsible for the flight or flight response and will lead to jitteriness, anxiety, and an over reliance on adrenaline and sugars for energy. Actually, over production of cortisol will lead to you using less and less body fat and storing unwanted fat around your mid section.

So, if you want unrelenting energy start taking care of yourself and follow the tips below to start taking the pressure from your adrenals so they can return to their normal function and help you regain your vitality.

General Rules for Adrenal Recovery

Focus on completing these tasks-

1.     Detoxify your bedroom; tidy up any clutter, remove any electric devices like televisions, laptops or mobile phones, and make sure it is pitch black by the time you wish to rest for bed.

2.     Be in bed before 10:00PM, sleep in until 09:00AM whenever possible.

3.     Look for things that make you laugh and be in the moment. Laugh several times a day.

4.     Eliminate any energy robbers (things in your life that drain your energy).

5.     Make your lifestyle a healing one.

6.     Do something pleasurable every day.

7.     Whenever you are not enjoying your life, make a decision as to what you're going to do- you can change the situation; you can change yourself to fit the situation or you can leave the situation.

8.     Notice at least one small, everyday thing that you are grateful for each day.

9.     Move your body and breathe deeply, this will help you stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for the release of anabolic hormones that help us grow, digest and repair.

10.  Use your mind as a powerful healing tool; believe in your ability to recover.

11.  Keep a journal- Jot down your experiences daily. Try to notice the daily peaks and troughs and work on them.

12.  Always consume a glass of water 20 minutes before a meal.

13.  Eat the foods your body needs, focusing on meat, fish and vegetables in every meal. Learn which foods make you feel lousy (keep a list).

14.  Try having a glass of water in the morning containing 1 teaspoon of dissolved natural sea salt.

15.  Salt your food; salt your water with natural sea salt.

16.  Choose your carbohydrate sources carefully; have protein and fats at every meal.

17.  Eat a rainbow of vegetables.

18.  Slow down at meal times; Drink your food (chew it properly) and chew your water.

19.  Take responsibility for your health.

20.  Make whatever changes you need to make to ensure vibrant lasting health.

21.  Take 1000mg of vitamin C complex, 200mg of magnesium and pantothenic acid at approximately 2:00PM every day along with a protein based snack everyday to avoid the 3:00-4:00PM low.

Avoid These Things-

1.     Getting over tired.

2.     Caffeine, sugar, alcohol and white flour products.

3.     Coffee, even decaf.

4.     Staying up past 10:00PM.

5.     Pushing yourself.

6.     Energy suckers.

7.     Being harsh or negative with yourself.

8.     Feeling sorry for yourself.

9.     Foods you are addicted to and foods you suspect you may have an allergy to.

10.  Foods that make you feel worse, cloud your thinking or make you feel worse in anyway.

11.  Never skip breakfast.

12.  Avoid fruit in the morning.

13.  Never eat starchy carbohydrates by themselves.

14.  Do not eat foods that affect you adversely, no matter how good they taste or how much you crave them.