5 Lifestyle Changes for More Energy and Faster Recovery from Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue presents those who suffer its effects with many challenges, not the least of which is obtaining an accurate diagnosis of the syndrome. But even if they are fortunate enough to obtain a proper diagnosis, many patients soon discover that there is little outside help for them in their quest for recovery. Fortunately, there are a variety of life changes that patients can make to help them heal their adrenals and get back on the path to sound health.
For patients suffering from adrenal fatigue, the first real hurdle they have to get over is obtaining a proper diagnosis. But that is far from the only obstacle in their path as they set out to find relief from their condition. Even after a diagnosis is obtained, those patients are still left with the challenge of developing an effective care plan to treat the ailment. To aid in that process, here are 5 lifestyle changes for more energy and quicker recovery from this terrible syndrome.
The problem for most people afflicted with this syndrome is that there isn’t much help out there. For the most part, medical practitioners either don’t believe that the syndrome exists or simply lack the understanding necessary to identify and properly treat it. Nor are they alone in their lack of awareness.
The fact is that, unlike many other medical conditions, adrenal fatigue is so unrecognized by most people that there aren’t even the same types of patient support systems you commonly see with other illnesses. Consider this: there are a multitude of cancer support groups, multiple sclerosis organizations, and similar patient-focused groups and systems for most common conditions. That’s simply not the case where this illness is concerned.
Since there is little medical recognition of this problem, and no reliable patient support, you have little choice other than to devise and follow your own treatment plan. The good news is that there are many things about this condition that you can control once you learn to recognize how they impact your health. They all involve different aspects of lifestyle that can contribute to the very stress that is overtaxing your adrenals and causing your fatigue. It’s time to change them, so let’s start by identifying them.
1. Get Rid of Your Energy Robbers
Energy robbers consist of everything that contributes to the high amounts of continual stress that is causing your adrenals to be overtaxed. Often times, the things and people that rob us of our energy tend to create within us a sense that we have no control over our existence. That feeling of powerlessness is itself a common stressor in many people’s lives. By evaluating everything in your life, you can discover the origins of much of your stress. More important, you can then commit to doing what is necessary to reduce or eliminate those problems.
For most people, the most common energy robbers fall into these four main categories:
- Work Conditions
- Home Life
- Food and Everything Else
People in your life can suck the energy out of you without even realizing it. This can occur for a variety of reasons, of course. There are some people who just seem to bring negativity wherever they go. You meet with them at lunch or other social occasions and their entire conversation devolves into an endless litany of complaints about their lives. That negativity can, over time, sap your energy by increasing your stress levels.
Other people seem to be drama magnets. Wherever they go, they bring one form of conflict or another, or engage in endless gossip or other unhealthy types of communication. Again, all of the melodrama can eventually become too much for you to bear, since each encounter has a cumulative effect on your overall stress level.
Dealing with energy-robbing people can be difficult even when they are mere acquaintances. After all, most of us are somewhat resistant to the idea of just telling someone to go away. This can be even more difficult when it’s a family member or a longtime friend who’s causing the stress. Obviously, you don’t want to alienate your own family or lose friends if there’s an alternate option available. Fortunately, there is – but you have to be somewhat creative.
First, you need to identify how these people drain you. What is it about Sally that makes her such an energy vampire? Is it a constant occurrence, or just something that happens in certain situations? And if so, is there a way for you to better manage your encounters with her to prevent the drain from happening? If you can learn how to limit and control the contact you have with these energy robbers, then you can more effectively regain that aspect of your own personal power and begin to feel more in control over your own life.
Work conditions can have that same effect. When you feel like you have no control in your workplace, it is easy to become overly stressed, and that will lead to fatigue as time goes by. Unfortunately, most of us cannot simply break off contact with our place of employment or control when and where we interact with co-workers, management, or customers. What we can do is try to make modifications that can spare us from many of the aspects of the work environment that may be contributing to a loss of energy.
For instance, you may have a certain type of interaction with a co-worker that results in you feeling drained every time you have to deal with him. Or you might have certain tasks that drain you more than others. Try to identify the energy-robbing aspects of your job and then look for ways to minimize that stress. Often times, much of the stress of any given work situation can be reduced simply by recognizing what is happening to you and focusing on changing your own outlook.
The home environment is another area where energy can quickly dissipate. For many of us, the demands of home and family seem to suck every bit of oxygen out of our lives. You not only have your day (or night) job; once you get home, you have a multitude of other jobs to fulfill as well. You might have a spouse. Perhaps you have children or pets. If you own your home, you have all the issues that come with homeownership to deal with as well. Everyone seems to want a piece of your time, and chances are you’re left feeling like you somehow get short-changed when the timekeepers hand out the daily allotment of hours each day.
To counter that, you need help. Sit down with your family and discuss the issues that are sapping your energy. Work to ensure that the demands of each day are not allowed to surpass the limited time you’re allotted. Don’t be afraid to tell the people you love that you need their help to regain your health.
And Everything Else
And then there are the other factors that can sap your energy. These include everything from the food you eat to the places you go and the things you wear. Evaluate everything. Sit down and make a list of how everything in your life makes you feel. Be honest and include both those things that make you feel energized and those things that make you feel depleted. You need to do this so that you know what you’re dealing with when you being to focus on making those critical changes.
2. Change Your Perspective
- Can you change the situation?
- Can you adapt to it?
- Can you leave it behind?
The fact is that we really only have three options when we are confronted with things that rob us of our energy. Once we’ve identified them, we have to evaluate just how powerful they are in relation to us, and determine which of those three options will best meet our goals.
Changing the Situation
The first option involves changing the conditions that are causing the problem. Can you change the way you interact with that energy-robbing person? Will he or she change the way he interacts with you if you explain the problem? Is there a way to modify your workload or the demands of home to ensure that your stress level is reduced? Is there a way to still go to those stress-inducing locales and somehow be more at ease?
If so, then you can change the fundamental conditions related to those people and things that are sapping your energy and raising your stress levels.
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Changing Yourself - Reframing
If the first option is not feasible, then you need to determine whether or not it is possible for you to adapt to the situation and modify your own reaction to these factors. One way to do this is through the mental process of reframing the way you relate to your environment.
This takes conscious effort and practice, but it can be highly effective when used properly. The key is to learn to exercise your own imagination and consciously deflect negative stressors away from you. With people who tend to create stress in your life, a conscious commitment to humor can sometimes make all the difference in the world. Imagine them as cartoon characters. Create your own humorous nicknames for them (but keep them to yourself, of course; the goal here is to help you – not hurt them). Whenever you feel those stressful, energy-draining moments coming on, bring those images and words to your mind and try to find the humor in the situation.
The same thing can be done with the workplace and home life as well. One of the hardest things for most people to do is to get to a point where they are unfazed by the small things in life. It’s often even harder for them to then realize that almost everything in life is either a small thing or a combination of small things. When you learn to reframe how you relate to life, the small things that used to stress you and drain your energy can be seen for what they actually are.
Walking Away From the Problem
In some instances, however, it will not be possible to either change the circumstances surrounding the energy drain, or find a way to adapt to it. When those options are no longer options, you have no choice but to remove the stressor from your life altogether. Because none of us relish the thought of eliminating people or things from our lives, this should always be the last resort. But, when all else fails, you sometimes have to walk away rather than continue to allow yourself to become sicker.
3. Commit to Relaxation
One of the most important aspects of reducing stress involves relaxation. Now, we’re not talking about the sort of relaxation that most people associate with playing a pick-up game of basketball, or spending time with the family on vacation. After all, those forms of leisure can often end up raising stress levels. What you need is the type of relaxation that actually makes real internal changes to your body – the kind that slows down the heart rate, normalizes breathing, reduces blood pressure, and actually allows the muscles and brain to relax.
While there are a variety of techniques like yoga that have proven effective in helping millions of people to relax, there are other methods that you can use without having to seek out a guru or join a class. Some of these are exercises that involve different forms of deep breathing that have been proven effective at helping to relax the mind and body. Others involve other outlets for rest and relaxation.
There are several breathing exercises that can help to relax you. Belly breathing is an important place to start, since it enables the air you breathe to more easily access the lower areas of the lungs. This breathing is characterized by an expansion and contraction of the lower abdomen rather than the chest. The reason why this breathing technique is so effective is due to the way in which it can quickly help you to reach a state of total relaxation – just the kind of relaxation you need to unwind from those energy-sapping stressors you encounter each day.
This is best done when you are alone, at least as you are first learning how to do it. Simply find a place to sit or lie, and then cover your lower belly with your hands as you breathe normally. Concentrate on the normal breathing pattern and get a sense of just how deeply you typically breathe. Now, take a breath and consciously try to inflate your lower abdomen as you inhale. Then let your belly return to normal as you let the air out. Do this repeatedly for several minutes, and repeat it regularly. You’ll find yourself more relaxed and rested after each session.
Another breathing technique involves consciously slowing your breathing when you find yourself in one of those situations where you sense your energy at risk. At some point, you’ve probably been advised to “take a deep breath” when you’re angry, right? That’s common advice that simply suggests that we should take a few seconds to collect ourselves when angered, so that we avoid rash actions or words that we might later regret. What many people never realized when giving out that old advice is that it actually does help to physically relax you.
You see, when we’re angry, we often have a tendency to breathe in shorter, more rapid bursts. The relaxed or deep breathing that most of us engage in during non-stressful moments can give way to hurried, shallow breathing that only serves to heighten the tension. By consciously focusing on each breath, and working to slow it down as much as possible, you can release much of that stress and refocus your mind.
If you think about it, breath control is a natural part of life control. After all, what are we without the breath of life? If you remember its importance and learn to focus on how you breathe, you’ll find that you can gain even greater control over how you choose to react to outside stimuli.
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream…
The final element of relaxation involves sleep. Now, keep in mind that restless sleep and various levels of insomnia can accompany adrenal fatigue. In addition, it is not uncommon for people suffering from this condition to find that their energy levels rise and fall throughout the day, which means that they often miss the “window” during which they could fall asleep at night and end up being awake when an energy high arrives. That can make them even more fatigued, and lead to additional adrenal gland damage.
The key to regaining control over your sleep patterns is to monitor your highs and lows throughout the day to determine when that second or third wind arrives at night. You’ll want to ensure that you actually go to sleep at least a half-hour before that last high energy phase arrives so that you don’t end up staying up later than you desire. If you need help becoming sufficiently relaxed that you can actually get to sleep, try eating a light bedtime snack, or doing some relaxation exercises prior to retiring. In addition, avoid television or any electronic screens for at least an hour prior to your designated sleeping time.
4. Chuckle Your Way to Better Health
Speaking of outside stimuli, when was the last time you had a good laugh? Here’s the thing about laughter: it actually can help to relieve stress. Have you ever seen or heard something so funny that you practically collapsed from laughing? Of course you have. How did you feel afterwards? Well, chances are that you felt much better than you did prior to the laughter.
Research indicates that there are a variety of positive benefits that are derived from laughter. A good laugh can stimulate your oxygen intake, release endorphins, and temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate. It also enhances circulation and soothes tight muscles. In short, it has real, measurable benefits for the body in terms of tension release. It also provides long-term benefits for the immune system, and can even help to reduce pain.
Finally, you need to incorporate exercise into your routine. Granted, when you’re already suffering from exhaustion at this level, the last thing you want to hear is that you need to engage in physical activity. Still, there is no denying the essential benefits of exercise for those suffering from adrenal fatigue. Let’s examine them to better understand why you cannot escape the need for some type of physical exercise.
First of all, the type of rapid breathing that accompanies most physical activities is necessary for cleansing the body of certain harmful gases. At the same time, blood circulation increases, carrying more oxygen to the cells and carrying away more carbon dioxide. Your hormones also see positive changes from physical activities, as the levels of crucial hormones undergo dramatic changes. Insulin, cortisol, and other hormones reach their proper balance during physical exertion.
In addition, the very act of exercising can have a positive effect on the brain and emotions. Often times, physical activity can be one of the most important ingredients for treating various forms of depression. And since depression is commonly seen in cases involving adrenal fatigue, anything that can lessen its effects is a net positive.
There is one thing that you must remember, however: exercise can also be overdone. Overtraining can be a stressor that only exacerbates your condition, so you have to strike the right balance. To do that, make sure that you engage in a combination of aerobic activities, anaerobic exercise, and movements for increased flexibility.
Aerobic exercises can include stamina-building activities like running up stairs, walking on the treadmill, swimming, and water aerobics. Anaerobic activities consist of strength-building exercises such as weight training and similar resistance movements. Flexibility exercises include yoga, stretching, and other activities designed to improve your range of motion in the muscles and joints.
Exercise should always be done with caution in the beginning, as you begin a new program and become acclimated to the increased demands that these activities place on your body. Expect to feel some soreness for a day or two after any workout, but recognize that anything more than mild soreness is usually a sign that you overdid it. As with everything, moderation is the key to long-term success.
Bringing it All Together
There’s no question that recovering from adrenal fatigue can take a lot of time and a great deal of effort. The most severe cases can often require a couple of years of recovery before anything close to full health is realized. That makes it all the more imperative that you make as many of these positive lifestyle changes as you can to better facilitate the healing of your overtaxed and damaged adrenals. By making these alterations, you can begin to heal and eventually enjoy the increased energy levels and restored quality of life that you deserve.
You might also be interested in:
- Adrenal fatigue. The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. James l. Wilson.
- How to Heal Adrenal Fatigue with Lifestyle Changes. http://www.compoundiapharmacy.com/blog/heal-adrenal-fatigue-lifestyle-change
- My battle with stage 3 adrenal fatigue and my journey to recovering my energy and health. http://radicatamedicine.com/2015/04/26/my-battle-with-stage-3-adrenal-fatigue-and-my-journey-to-recovering-my-energy-and-health/
- The Modern Lifestyle: A Recipe for Adrenal Fatigue? http://chriskresser.com/the-modern-lifestyle-a-recipe-for-adrenal-fatigue/
- Heal Your Adrenals – Recovering From Adrenal Fatigue. http://www.healthambition.com/heal-adrenals/