STRESS * BURN OUT * COMPASSION FATIGUE * ADRENAL FATIGUE *

STRESS * BURN OUT * COMPASSION FATIGUE * ADRENAL FATIGUE *

Adrenal fatigue is a term that is growing in popularity as researchers learn more about the mind/body connection. Adrenal fatigue is used to describe a collection of non-specific symptoms that occur as a result of ongoing, high levels of stress.

Living in a chronic state of stress, without allowing for sufficient periods of recovery, precipitates a cascade of events depleting the body’s resources. We used to call it “burn out”, but as practitioners tease out more connections and relate them to causes, the conversation is expanding.  What’s important to know is how it connects to you and your life, and what you can do to improve your quality of life.

First, let’s talk about what is taking place in your body when it is under stress.

THE EFFECTS OF STRESS

Have you ever felt exhausted for a day or more after a stressful event?  During the event, energy was plentiful.  You danced at your son’s wedding or handled a crisis with ease and grace. That night, sleep came easily.  The next morning, however, you awoke tired and foggy headed.  Days later your body still felt limp with fatigue and your mind sluggish. You had that “I can’t get out of this chair” feeling in spades.

What you likely experienced was an adrenaline hangover. In stressful situations, good or bad, our body goes on high alert. Adrenaline gives us that boost of energy we need to take care of business. Once the event is over, however, our body takes time to return to its normal state of equilibrium.

Chronic stress has become a way of life for men and women of the 21st century. This is especially true during the midlife years when daily demands intensify. Everything hits at once.  Not only are we coping with a decade or more of the physical and emotional demands of menopause, we are navigating other pivotal life-changes.  For example, our parents are aging and becoming increasingly dependent on us for support. Our children are either temperamental teens navigating their own major life choices, or venturing out into the world for the first time.  We are mid-career, mid-marriages, post divorce and beginning to wonder about retirement. No wonder our body says, “Hey! Wait a minute!”

Chronic stress can do serious damage, not only to our enjoyment of life, but to our long-term health.  The longer we live, the more likely we are to have experience prolonged periods of unabated stress. This can and does eventually lead to adrenal burnout for many. Caregivers are particularly vulnerable to this condition, as day after day, week after week, month after month, they put the needs of their loved ones above their own. Those with chronic illnesses or unhealthy lifestyles are also more susceptible to this condition.

UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS

Our adrenal glands produce hormones that mobilize our body to deal quickly and aggressively with unexpected danger. In today’s world, the dangers we encounter are emotional and psychological, as well as physical.  We may no longer need to run away from wild animals, but we sure might want to run away from our job or home life. Job stress, family dynamics, a poor diet or lack of sleep and exercise take their toll on our adrenal system.

The fact that we no longer fight or flee in the physical sense, actually leaves our body without a means of dissipating the chemicals released into them during a stress response.  We rarely get into a fist fight with our neighbor when she makes us angry, or sprint ten miles down the road to get away from her.  (This is a good argument for running for exercise!)

To complicate matters, stress has become a chronic way of life for our entire culture.  Even as our adrenal glands are working overtime trying to keep up, we are telling ourselves that we are lazy or emotionally weak.  When we’re young we carry on, ignoring our body’s objections. Then one day, often midlife, we realize we have a serious problem.  Our adrenal glands are in a state of fatigue. We are now experiencing “burn out”, not only a psychological phenomenon, but a physical one. Bouncing back becomes increasingly difficult and we become less and less resilient.

FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO ADRENAL BURNOUT

Many factors contribute to, and exacerbate adrenal burnout.  A poor diet, lack of sufficient sleep for extended periods of time, a history of substance abuse, repeated infections, chronic medical conditions, emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety, financial difficulties, a stressful work environment, are all likely culprits.

Reversing this situation is almost always possible, and the sooner the recovery process is begun the sooner we will be back on our feet. Recovery takes not only significant life style changes, but time. We must remember that it has taken us years to get into this situation. It may take months, if not years, for us to repair the damage. The good news is, however, that we will begin to feel better and better as time goes on, even as we must still remain vigilant as we do.

SIGNS OF ADRENAL FATIGUE

 

STEPS TO RECOVERY

ADRENAL RECOVERY SOUP

 

6 Replies to “STRESS * BURN OUT * COMPASSION FATIGUE * ADRENAL FATIGUE *”

  1. Great article with such truth that is hard to get through medical profession – they aren’t taught much about adrenals and stress. Maybe things are changing! I had adrenal fatigue, undiagnosed from a brain injury likely, then found this soup, Kharrazian’s book, and took supplements. They healed and now I have maybe a little too much energy sometimes!! This soup tastes good too!! I am so glad to see someone talking about this!! Thank you for what you are doing for the stressed in our country!!

    1. I keep hoping that the traditional medical community and the non-traditional wholistic health community will work together one day, putting all the pieces together so we don’t have to choose one over the other.. I did not learn about my adrenal fatigue from the doctor but through my own research as I was desperate to find some answers to the way I felt. I’m glad I did!

  2. This is an excellent overview of stress related fatigue. I’m recovering from this type of fatigue right now. Having taught some courses on this subject, I recognized my symptoms after a couple of months of unrelenting stress due to several different situations that were just simply unavoidable and a part of life. Rest is so important but finding some much needed serenity will also work wonders. I’m going to try your soup recipe. It sounds easy and yummy! Love your blog.

  3. Everything is very open with a precise explanation of
    the challenges. It was truly informative. Your website is very useful.
    Thanks for sharing!

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