I’m reading the totally not new book “Adrenal Fatigue - The 21st Century Stress Syndrome”. I love that the first and most important part of healing is lifestyle changes. Everyone wants to take that magic supplement or pill to fix whatever is making them unwell. Unfortunately, lifestyle, mindset, and attitude play a much more important part in our health. They are not as easy as popping a pill, they take daily work. We can’t undo a bad lifestyle or a negative mindset with just ashwagandha or rhodiola or what another new adaptogen, vitamin or mineral is in the spotlight.
What exactly is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue is the down-regulation of your adrenal gland, and the main symptoms are fatigue, inability to handle stress and a weakened immune system. There are many other symptoms I’m not going to list. I’ve had first-hand experience with these symptoms, from being hospitalized for a lung infection in my 20’s then training excessively and running multiple long distance running events (marathons and ultra-marathons) over years and taking asthma medication with corticosteroids daily. These are all detailed in the book as being possible triggers for adrenal fatigue. The feelings of sleeping for 9 or 10 hours and still waking up exhausted, trivial negative events triggering tears and hopelessness, catching any cold going around.
Chronic stress and cortisol.
The effect of stress is cumulative. For example; a hard training session, a processed sugary donut for breakfast, making a mistake at work and beating ourselves up about it, feeling bloated leaving us unhappy with how we look that day all add up to the stress load for the day. Add to that being stuck in traffic, long queues at the supermarket, staying up late to finish watching a show on Netflix. All of this snowballs into a heavy load of stress, even though conventionally none of those issues on their own would raise any alarms. Then say as I got sick and couldn't recover, had an asthma attack and had to be hospitalized. This event could have been the straw that broke the camel's back or one of many others stresses to come.
The book has made me realize that even though I experienced physical events that could have triggered the burn out of my adrenal glands, what is also most likely is my own thought process and mindset can greatly contribute to the syndrome. Negative self-talk, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, not being good enough are just as harmful as over training or a bad diet. I remember dreading to go in to work on many days, feeling overwhelmed, hopeless that I couldn't leave, unhappy.
Adrenal Fatigue - is there a way out?
It’s not easy to reverse years of negative thinking, but it can be done. Unfortunately, I can’t tout a success story about how I fixed my anxiety and adrenal fatigue by thinking positively, this is still a work in progress. Reading the book has made me more aware of how big the role of attitude and mindset has on our overall health, not just adrenal. I related to many of the emotions covered like regret, hopelessness, dread, negative self-talk.
Where do I start?
The first step is always acknowledging what I need to work on and I feel like the book helped me identify that. Now I need to isolate when I’m being negative or thinking negatively about myself. What are my most common negative thoughts? Then I can replace these with new more positive thought patterns. Or if I find myself in a negative situation then I need to reframe my view to be more positive. Stop thinking about what others opinions are of me, and do what I want to do. It also pays to practice gratitude, remind myself daily how much I have to be thankful for. The key here is practice and consistency. All of the solutions need to be worked on daily, it’s not going to be a one and done, or a quick fix. But now that I have re-focused on how important this is for my health, I’m going to give this a lot more attention.