These days, women truly are expected to do it all. Our homes must be immaculate and Pinterest-worthy, our children must be well-behaved and enrolled in the appropriate number of extracurricular activities, our jobs should be challenging and fulfilling but not keep us away from our families, and our bodies must be toned and tight.
“But nobody’s perfect,” we tell ourselves in our more rational moments. Then we log on to social media and see image after image of meticulously groomed moms playing with their smiling children, which makes us wonder if everybody else is perfect — everybody except us. So we try harder, stay up later, work out more, all in an effort to achieve that elusive perfection.
Unsurprisingly, our desire to do it all takes a toll on our health. We may find ourselves exhausted no matter how much we sleep, foggy and unfocused no matter how much coffee we drink, or suddenly unable to lose weight even if we eat well and exercise. We burn the candle at both ends until we burn out. The result? Adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal fatigue is a condition that develops when the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing cortisol and other hormones, become overworked and lose their ability to function. Our adrenals secrete cortisol as part of the body’s normal stress response. But when we’re constantly pushing ourselves — and therefore constantly stressed out — the adrenals may be taxed to the point where they just can’t take it anymore. This affects our ability to handle stress, and we experience the symptoms that have come to be associated with adrenal fatigue.
While many mainstream medical professionals aren’t familiar enough with adrenal fatigue to diagnose it, functional medicine practitioners like myself understand how to spot the symptoms of this increasingly common condition. These symptoms include:
Another sign of adrenal fatigue is a “tired and wired” feeling, where your body is exhausted, but you can’t turn off your racing mind. This often happens at night, making it hard to fall asleep.
Just as our lifestyle choices may contribute to adrenal fatigue, so can they help reverse it. There are many steps you can take to naturally support your body when dealing with adrenal fatigue. Here are some of them.
Although adrenal fatigue may cause you to crave sweets and salty snacks, try not to give in to these cravings. Instead, focus on eating a whole-food diet that’s rich in colorful fruits and veggies. (If this means you have to slow down enough to cook healthy meals for yourself instead of reaching for convenience foods, your adrenals will be doubly grateful.)
It’s also important to consider possible food sensitivities. A functional medicine practitioner can help you determine if gluten, dairy, or other inflammatory foods may be exacerbating your adrenal fatigue symptoms.
Since pushing ourselves too hard is often at the root of adrenal fatigue, pulling back and prioritizing rest can really help alleviate symptoms. Set an early bedtime for yourself and stick to it no matter what. If you’re a high-intensity exercise lover, consider pulling back on the cardio and doing some gentle yoga instead.
Even in the middle of a busy day, you can carve out time to relax. Simply pausing to take a few deep, cleansing breaths every so often can help you recharge.
The adrenals need plenty of B vitamins, which are key for energy production, to function properly. Magnesium, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium are also critical for adrenal and thyroid health.4 If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough of these nutrients from your diet, you may want to take a whole food multivitamin.
Herbs can also be powerful tools for treating adrenal fatigue. Adaptogens like ashwagandha that support the body’s stress response may be especially beneficial for adrenal health.
Dehydration is standard among people with adrenal fatigue, particularly those who may be so busy they forget to drink enough water. Get yourself a stainless steel or glass water bottle, and drink up! Since accountability can be challenging, you might want to download an app that can help you track your water consumption.
If you’re feeling burned out and in need of support, contact My Pure MD. We’re here to listen to your concerns and offer you natural, holistic solutions.