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8 Signs You’re Dealing with Adrenal Fatigue and What to Do About It

Mar 9, 2020

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We’ve all been there: googling “how to get more energy” or “why am I so tired?”

It seems like the never ending chase to figure out how to get more done and have more energy doing it!

Good news is: you truly can live with energy and focus! And those pesky symptoms you are experiencing could be rooted in adrenal fatigue.

If you’re curious if adrenal fatigue is something you are struggling with, start here: “What is Adrenal Fatigue: Stress, Symptoms, Science”

Here’s some signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue to watch out for and what to do about it!

8 Signs You’re Dealing with Adrenal Fatigue and What to Do About It

You wake up feeling ‘hungover,’ with a headache or just exhausted.

If you wake up feeling ‘hungover’…like a train hit you…or irritable or exhausted at least a few times a week, adrenal fatigue could be the root issue here! This is often due to tossing and turning at night or not going into that deep sleep state. With adrenal fatigue your circadian rhythm is confused and can cause a dysfunction in your cortisol (I’m awake hormone) and melatonin (I’m sleepy hormone). Typically with adrenal fatigue, your melatonin can be higher in the morning causing you to feel exhausted even after waking up!

Morning headaches, yes that’s rooted in adrenal imbalance too!

What to do :: Restoring deep sleep is often the last puzzle piece in healing—this takes time and dedication. Cultivate a good nighttime routine: avoiding stress, negativity, loud noises and screens a hour before bed. Take a bath, apply magnesium lotion and take CBD oil before bed (Read “What is CBD Oil + Why I Take it Daily”). Remember that like with a baby, sleep begets sleep…so get into bed earlier while you are healing (8/8:30) so you avoid spiking your energy late at night.

You find it difficult to lose weight, despite doing everything “right!”

When your stress hormones are in ‘alert mode’ all the time, your body senses danger and works to protect itself—this is a natural and beautiful part of how the body works! But when this chronic stress response is activated, weight gain (in particular the waistline) and difficulty loosing weight can be pretty common. Your body doesn’t distinguish between if you had a stressful day or if a famine is coming, so it’s trying to protect you!

What to do :: Decrease sugar intake and processed carbohydrates that easily convert to sugar—sugar requires insulin to convert it to usable energy and insulin is a fat storage hormone. Nourishing carbohydrates are important—I highly discourage eating no carbs for women especially—but choose wisely! Incorporate starches like root vegetables, beets, cassava, chickpeas and buckwheat and always consume them with a good fat source to keep your blood sugar stable.

You crave salt, sugar and caffeine.

Salt cravings are SO common with adrenal fatigue. Why? One of the functions of the adrenal glands is to control your sodium-potassium levels and thus the fluid balance in your body, which also helps regulate blood pressure. This is done through aldosterone, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. When your adrenals are weakened due to a chronic output of the stress hormones we need to increase consumption of mineral rich salt to replenish mineral stores.

Sugar and caffeine cravings are there because your body is looking for a temporary quick fix to get your energy up! This only adds fuel to the fire!

What to do :: Increase your intake of pure, mineral rich salt, I only recommend Celtic Sea Salt due to their strict and natural processing efforts. This is SO crucial to replenishing your mineral stores and giving your adrenal glands the building blocks they need.

You are wired at night and have difficulty facing asleep.

Under optimal circumstances, cortisol (“I’m awake” hormone) should be it’s highest in the morning and from there start to decrease. Melatonin (“I’m asleep” hormone) should start to increase as the sun goes down and rapidly increase towards bed time. With adrenal fatigue, these two hormones are confused and often cortisol surges after dinner or about 8pm at night, leaving you wired before bed. You may also have difficulty “shutting your brain off” due to these confused hormones. Sleep is needed to recover from adrenal fatigue, but the catch is often this is one of the last puzzle pieces to resolve!

What to do :: Cultivate positive, relaxing sleep rituals and start them about about 2 hours before your desired sleep time. Add in a nutrient dense snack about 30-45 minutes before you go to sleep. You want this to be full of nourishing fats with a bit of carbohydrates—almond butter with 1/2 a banana or apple, slices of cheese with a few crackers, whole milk, plain yogurt with nuts or seeds. It doesn’t need to be a meal, just a few bites to keep your blood sugar stable!

You’ve experienced a physical or emotional trauma.

I don’t think we truly realize the power of trauma and how it can affect us for years or even decades to come. Trauma is a form of high intensity stress and could still be lingering in the background of your story. Especially with emotional trauma, it might be something you aren’t even fully aware of or something that happened to you as a child. The body can still hold onto that past trauma and go into a chronic stress state.

What to do :: I’m no expert, but talking to a professional therapist or counselor can be so healing! Even spending some time journaling your story and thinking through any physical or emotional traumas you experienced (even in utero) can bring healing to your journey. Always seek professional help when needed!

You live with an autoimmune disease or chronic health struggle.

Autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue go hand in hand! I personally have two autoimmune diseases—type 1 diabetes and Hashimotos—and have seen a big decrease in my symptoms by working on adrenal fatigue. With an autoimmune disease your body is constantly working to play catch up, due to a poorly functioning organ(s) or body system, and this triggers a chronic stress response whether or not your even realize it. 

What to do :: Learn to say NO. You have to be your biggest advocate here! Get really clear on your priorities and be ok with saying no to protect yourself. Keep your stress levels low and make sleep and relaxing activities a priority!

You feel overwhelmed, panic or anxiety.

Our body’s stress response system is brilliant—but stress is designed to pass—perceive the stress, handle the stress and relax after the stress is no longer a threat. However, when the stress response is constantly activated like it often is in modern times, our stress response goes into overdrive. Your body and hormones are stuck in “ON” or survival mode and you end up exhausted, overwhelmed, panicked and even anxious.

What to do :: Take 60 seconds to breathe and change your environment. Go outside, press pause. Come back with a fresh perspective, take a few minutes to organize and plan your next hours. Typically once adrenal fatigue is resolved and starts to heal, these symptoms will decrease. Always seek medial help when needed! CBD oil can also be super beneficial to help bring balance—I take it daily and have noticed a big difference!

Your hormones (and even your skin) are just off.

Your hormones work together—picture a music band, the music sounds beautiful when everyone does their part at the right time. If one musician is off, everything else can sound out of whack. Your hormones, in particular your thyroid and sex hormones, depend on properly functioning adrenal hormones to serve as the building blocks for making hormones. Hormonal acne can often be rooted in adrenal imbalance as well. An increase in cortisol increases oil production in the skin’s cells which can lead to those painful, deep hormonal breakouts.

What to do :: Decrease endocrine disrupting chemicals as much as possible—switch to clean deodorant, makeup, skincare and cleaning supplies. These chemicals increase stress on our bodies and can only damage a weakened adrenal system even more.  Next, decrease or eliminate all refined sugars and focus on incorporating plenty of fresh, whole foods.

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