How To Support Your Adrenals Through A Busy Summer
With summer fast approaching social calendars are filling up, weekends are booking out, and after work drinks on a patio are becoming a common occurrence. Summer, being the most social time of the year, can contribute to an increase in lifestyle stressors including: lack of sleep, poor food choices, use of stimulants, pulling “all-nighters” or “pushing through” a day despite being tired. If not balanced with restorative activities, stress-relieving practices or a little R&R, this stress can lead to burn-out or adrenal fatigue, leaving you feeling low, exhausted and unmotivated.
Your adrenal glands are part of your endocrine system and chiefly responsible for regulating your stress response through hormone regulation (DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone). They’re also extremely important for a healthy immune system and for proper thyroid function. In short, when you become stressed (physical and/or mental), they become stressed and are unable to do their job properly.
WHEN YOUR ADRENALS BEGIN TO FALTER, YOU MAY NOTICE:
– Constantly feeling fatigued despite getting a good night’s sleep
– Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea
– Sugar and/or salt cravings
– Weight gain
– Depending on stimulants like caffeine to keep you going
– Brain fog
– Inability to focus
– Feeling overwhelmed, irritability, sadness, or loss of enthusiasm
– Increased susceptibility to illness
– Decreased ability to handle stress, feeling frazzled
– Insomnia or waking around 3-4am, unable to get to sleep
– Worsened PMS symptoms
– Irregular periods
– Feeling more tired and achy
– Low sex drive
Emotional stress including a stressful work environment, a death, divorce, injury, financial troubles, job loss, OR even positive stress like getting married or having a baby can also contribute to adrenal fatigue. A little stress is normal and good, but if you’re not sleeping or eating well and continue in stress mode for months (or even years!), you’re headed for burnout because your body doesn’t have the chance to recuperate. At this point your adrenals, thyroid and hormones will all be imbalanced and it can take a while to get your health back on track.
Prevention is the key when it comes to adrenal health, and there are many natural ways to support your adrenals through busy social calendars or emotionally stressful times to ensure you don’t crash hard……
NATURAL WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR ADRENALS:
1. The most important thing you can do for your adrenals is prioritize restful and restorative sleep. Develop a sleep ritual (meditate, read, take a bath, drink a herbal tea) and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Aim for a bedtime of 10pm or earlier, and invest in an eye mask or blackout curtains in the summer.
2. Cut back on over-processed foods, refined sugar and junk foods from your diet during the week (or better still eliminate completely!). Focus on eating more brightly coloured vegetables, greens, lean protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates coming from vegetables and whole grains.
3. Reduce your coffee & alcohol consumption and drink more water. Aim to get in at least 3-4 litres of water daily, adding fresh lemon juice or a pinch of Himalayan salt to your water to introduce more minerals.
4. Reduce your high intensity cardio sessions (which may be doing more harm than good) and practice more restorative exercise like yoga, pilates and nature walks, as well as deep breathing exercises. Excessive physical exertion at this time will only leave you feeling more drained of energy.
5. Spend quiet time each day meditating, writing in a journal or talking to a loved one (family or friend).
6. Simplify your life. Put your cell phone away, focus on one task at a time, disconnect from news and email, declutter and tidy up any mess.
THE FOLLOWING SUPPLEMENTS CAN ALSO HELP:
Vitamin C – helps with proper cortisol production and is a powerful antioxidant that supports your immune system, which is key for those suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Vitamins B5, B6 and B12 – can help you manage stress and boost your energy levels. B5 helps to produce co-enzyme A, which contributes to cellular respiration and the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. B6 acts in several of the pathways that are used to create adrenal hormones. And B12 helps with energy production, cell repair and the maintenance of our red blood cells.
Omega 3 fatty acids – taking a good Omega-3 supplement can reduce inflammation throughout your body and relieve the workload placed on your adrenals.
Magnesium – promotes relaxation, relieves and reduces anxiety, promotes improved sleep, and reduces physical aches and pains.
Adaptogens – these specifically support your adrenals and protect the body from the toxic effects of stress. Adaptogens such as Siberian ginseng, rhodiola rosea, and maca stimulate the body, enhancing mental performance, and physical stamina. Others, like reishi, ashwagandha and holy basil, help calm the body and soothe the adrenals when they’re super stressed. When taking adaptogens it’s important to work with a practitioner such as a Naturopathic Doctor to help you determine exactly what you need!
Incorporate the above practices throughout the summer, especially if start to feel overwhelmed and like your adrenals need a little bit of extra love. You’ll notice when your adrenals start to recover because you’ll feel more energized, restful and alert. Not to mention you’ll look better, sleep better and feel happier overall.
If you’re feeling a little worse for wear and looking for some help to get your energy levels back up, book a session with one of our Naturopathic Doctors! Call us 416-504-9355 to book your appointment today!