If you are tired of feeling tired, sick of feeling sick or just ready to kick the stress cycle, you need these tips for nourishing your adrenal glands that I’m going to provide for you here today.
I’ve learned a lot about chronic stress especially over the past 3 years. Life happens and in my career as a psychotherapist treating families, children, couples and individuals since 2002, I’ve seen how the stresses of life affect people. And, I have had some really stressful events in my own life that pushed my health to the brink as a result.
Today I’m going to share with you what I have learned after 3 years of experience and study about the adrenal glands, stress and how your daily habits can either drive you into the ground, or nourish and nurture your body, mind and spirit.
If we were able to have some kind of magical scanner to look at the adrenal glands of just about any woman who lives a busy life, has raised children or has had a busy career we would see that her sweet little adrenal glands are TIRED. And when they get tired over time, they can’t function as well as they used to. When those adrenals are tired we start relying on short term habits that actually just deplete the adrenals further.
I’ve been studying something called “adrenal fatigue.” For women in this society it’s all too common.
Here are some signs your adrenal glands need your help:
- You feel tired … almost all the time
- You wake in the night between 2 and 4 am
- You feel groggy and notice it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, even when you got to bed at a reasonable hour
- You are dependent on coffee first thing to function
- You often feel rundown
- Your brain feels foggy – your memory is weak
- You feel overwhelmed
- You crave salty or sweet foods
So what do you do? Well, you should consult with a functional medicine doctor who has an in-depth understanding of this concept of adrenal fatigue because there are lab tests that can be run to identify exactly where you are on the spectrum of adrenal deficiency. Typically particular lab results would show that your cortisol levels are too high at night and not high enough in the morning.
The good news is there are some healthy lifestyle habits you can observe to help in the process of nourishing your adrenal glands.
After working with 9 different healthcare practitioners over the past 3 years, I’ve got some very clear answers finally.
10 Tips for Nourishing Your Adrenals:
1. Make Quality Sleep Your TOP Priority.
Take this very seriously. You need to ensure you are getting enough quality sleep every night. Sleep deprivation is a chronic and pervasive problem in our society. The health practitioners I have worked with indicate women truly need 8 hours of solid sleep without interruption every night. Build your schedule and your family’s routine around your absolute need to get your sleep. Back up your bed time, make sure the temp in your room is cool and darken the light sources. Read more about how to get a good night sleep here.
2. Program Your Brain to Focus on the Lighter Side of Life.
Dr. Christiane Northrup says, “If you…regularly pay attention to areas of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment, you will evoke biochemical changes in your body over time that will recharge your adrenal batteries.” I recommend you brainstorm a list or create a vision board with images that contains all of the people, places, things, memories, events that bring you a feeling of lightness and joy. Take a photo of it and use it as your wall paper on your phone. Look at it often. Pin it up in a prominent place in your house. When your mind goes to stressful thoughts, consciously change the channel in your mind to focus on the lighter side of life.
3. Load up on Greens Every Day.
The center of your meals needs to be leafy greens when you are nourishing your adrenal glands. Spinach, broccoli, romaine, arugula, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, dandelion greens, watercress, parsley, celery. Rotate the kinds of greens you are eating and eat them at every meal. You also can drink your greens in a smoothie. The phytonutrients in greens provide your adrenals with all they need to heal and grow strong again and there are so many other health benefits to making greens the headliner of every meal.
4. Kick the Sugars and White Foods to the Curb.
I have learned that there is a vicious cycle with these guys. When your adrenals are taxed, you’ll crave these sweet and salty white carbs because when you eat them you feel better. . . for a few minutes. . . and then you crash. It’s an addictive cycle, honestly. And we gotta stop that habit. Read labels. Aim for whole foods not refined and processed. If you have a craving for sweet, eat a teaspoon of pure almond butter on a celery stick or an apple slice. You can use pure stevia or monk fruit sweetener in moderation to satisfy the desire for sweet treats. Sugar and all things that turn to sugar in the body (white flour breads, pastas, etc.) have an exhausting and draining effect on the adrenals.
5. Rethink the Drink.
Alcohol is hard on the body. It’s a huge part of our culture and apart and aside from the issue of addiction and alcoholism, casual drinking on a regular basis taxes the adrenal glands. In order to heal and invest in nourishing the adrenal glands, it’s important to eliminate alcohol consumption for a while. Once you have healed you can always return to having an occasional glass of wine or cocktail.
6. Opt for Walks and Gentle Yoga Rather than Hard Workouts.
This one is one of my more recent discoveries. Experts on adrenal deficiency say that hitting the gym hard can actually exacerbate your adrenal exhaustion. When healing your adrenals, you will benefit from getting out every day and just taking a 20-30 minute walk followed by some gentle stretches. My yoga over 40 guided mini gentle sessions will be available soon!
7. Sip on One of These Herbal Teas Before Bed.
Try chamomile herbal tea has been shown in one empirical research study to help decrease anxiety, depression, and all those symptoms of stress when consumed regularly over the course of 2-4 weeks. Another herbal tea that is from the African red bush, known as Rooibos, and can have a balancing effect on cortisol.
8. Get Plenty of Magnesium.
You can eat foods naturally rich in magnesium such as leafy greens, avocado, salmon and walnuts but you may also need to supplement. Personally I take magnesium glycerinate before bed every night. You also can apply magnesium oil to the bottoms of your feet at night before sleep. Magnesium is an important agent in nourishing adrenal glands, relaxes the muscles and nerves, and promotes quality sleep.
9. Create No-thing time on your calendar and Practice Saying “No.”
I have to keep working on this one myself. I have learned (still learning!) that we need to accept that there is only so much time in a day. Think of your time as a pie. You can divide that pie into as many pieces as you want but it’s still the same amount of pie as a whole. I have also learned that our fast-paced, tech-driven society pushes us to do more, more, more! Yet, we have to consciously choose to slow it all down. Examine your calendar and your list of to-do’s and consider that maybe you could take some of that off your plate. When people ask you to go somewhere or show up for something or take on a new task, instead of defaulting to “Yes!” try, “I promised myself as a part of my own self care that I will take a day to think about any request that comes my way before saying whether I will or won’t be able to participate.” Or, you could just practice saying “No thanks!” or “Not at this time.” Preserve time in your days for no-thing. No-thing to do right now. No-thing time allows you to be in that moment where you can choose to rest, go for a walk, read a book, listen to music, or whatever feels right then and there.
10. Learn to practice meditation.
There is ample scientific evidence providing that the regular practice of meditation improves brain function, reduces stress and helps with the mind-body connection. I’ve been practicing meditation for over 25 years and it’s the one habit I can say I would not live without. Read and watch more here about what I teach when I’m providing meditation instruction in my retreats and classes.
Nourishing your adrenal glands is a matter of releasing old habits that are doing your body harm and embracing new daily practices consistently. It’s a good idea to be under a functional medicine doctor’s care to monitor your hormone balance along with living a holistic lifestyle and having a plan for your self care.
Contact me so we can discuss your personal self care plan.