TIRED ALL THE TIME? LET’S LOOK AT THOSE STRESS HORMONES
Let’s be completely honest; being a woman is exhausting.
It seems that in today’s world, being busy is worn like a badge of honour, and we may even try to compete about just HOW stressed we actually are.
There are many reasons why fatigue and exhaustion pop up, from nutritional deficiencies to thyroid dysfunction, and even compromised mitochondrial dysfunction. One reason that is often pushed aside is adrenal dysfunction.
Now, you may have heard the term adrenal fatigue, but dysfunction describes the process a bit more clearly. Plus, health professionals really hate the term adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands don’t exactly become fatigued, but they can become a little confused, and become either over or underactive.
BUT LET’S BACKTRACK A BIT. WTF ARE ADRENALS?
Your adrenal glands are located at the top of your kidneys and are shaped like two little pyramids. They work to regulate blood pressure and fluid levels in the body (through aldosterone), but more importantly, in this case, they produce our major stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. They also secrete androgens (DHEA and testosterone sex hormones). This is why those with hormonal imbalances absolutely must address their stress response when looking to tackle the symptoms.
A small gland in your brain, known as the pituitary gland, sends a message in the form of the hormone adrenocorticotropic (ACTH) to the adrenal glands in response to a stressful or scary situation. The adrenals then do their job. What is believed to happen when to some that experience adrenal dysfunction, is that the adrenals are victim to being chronically overactive as a response to stress so much so that the natural rhythm of the stress hormones can become compromised.
It’s a tricky one, as “adrenal fatigue” as such hasn’t been proven, but irregular cortisol patterns can be and detected via blood or saliva tests. We actually want cortisol to be higher in the morning and gradually drop off throughout the day. It shouldn’t be chronically elevated, and your body shouldn’t feel as if it’s in a fight or flight state all the time.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THIS IS THE REASON BEHIND YOUR TIREDNESS?
Do any of the following sound familiar?
- You wake up exhausted and struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
- When your head it’s the pillow at night, it takes a while to fall asleep and you feel wired and restless.
- You feel as if you could do with a nap around 3-4 pm.
- You’re experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances such as acne, hair loss, irregular cycles or unexplained weight gain (especially around the middle).
- You’re prone to mood swings and/ or low mood.
If so, it’s time to give those adrenals some TLC.
Blood sugar balance and your adrenal function are directly linked as your body sees drastic drops in blood sugar as a stressor. Furthermore, high insulin (a hormone released in response to sugar in the blood) can throw particular sex hormones off course too. Keep blood sugar levels stable by always incorporating a quality protein source in every meal and snack, incorporating healthy fats and slow-releasing, complex carbohydrates. Avoid sugar and inflammatory oils.
Sleep is vital for healthy levels of stress hormones. We love a wind-down routine, so ensure yours is free from blue light-emitting screens. Dim the lights and consider magnesium bisglycinate or sleepy herbs or tea (we have a whole post on our favourites here). Ensure the room is pitch black and cool, free from any distractions. Don’t eat too close to bedtime, especially refined carbohydrates.
The most obvious way to balance your stress hormones and soothe those adrenals is to work on your stress levels (duh). Controlling both the external stressors AND your response to those stressors can help keep cortisol levels where they should be. Whilst this looks different on everyone, here is a list of tactics and coping mechanisms.
- Set distinct boundaries with yourself, your friends and your family. These boundaries may be put in place to ensure you’re not overexerting yourself. Learn how to say no and prioritise yourself.
- Tackle your most daunting tasks head-on. Sometimes putting them aside and out of mind can cause more stress than getting things done.
- Ensure that you’re able to put time aside every single day for yourself.
- Consider taking up a meditation or mindfulness practice
- Consider daily baths.
- Take up a soothing hobby that is worlds away from what you do from work.
- Read, draw, paint or knit.
- Consider reiki, acupuncture, breathwork or yoga.
- Swap high-intensity workouts for lower, slower movement.
- Remember to breathe throughout the day, unclench your jaw and relax your shoulders – it sounds silly, but relaxing our bodies doesn’t just have to take place at specific times throughout the day.
- Ensure you’re drinking enough water and add a pinch of pink salt.
- Get outside.
- Invest in some soothing essential oils.
- Consider adaptogens.
- Ensure your home doesn’t contain mould, which can be highly toxic when constantly around and can amplify and drive symptoms of imbalance.
glow market and the content provided are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on glow market and The Scoop is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your doctor and/ or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.