Tag: coping with stress

HOW TO TREAT ADRENAL FATIGUE – Recovering from Stress Overload

HOW TO TREAT ADRENAL FATIGUE – Recovering from Stress Overload

Learning how to treat adrenal fatigue is part science, part intuition and part trial and error. It requires that we tune into our body’s signals, learning as much as we can about interpreting them and then addressing the issues. This is best done by paying attention, noticing, charting, and working with a professional who can provide knowledge, objectivity and a course of treatment. Personal participation and commitment is the number one priority. Most of us need to restore our ability to listen to our senses and intuition, and trust them.

THE FIRST STEP TO RECOVERY

Before we can begin to treat adrenal fatigue we must alter the way we look at the healing process. In our culture we have been taught to hand over responsibility for our health to health care professionals. When we have a problem, our first course of action is to make an appointment with our doctor. Then, the doctor asks us a series of questions, pinpoints a problem, and either schedules further testing or writes a prescription, which we fill, take and wait. We play a very passive role in the healing process. Our body is also treated as if it is simply a passive recipient.

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO HELP THE HEALING PROCESS

When addressing stress induced illnesses and conditions, of which adrenal fatigue is one. It is imperative to look at ourselves from a holistic viewpoint. What we most often forget in the current medical model is that our body wants to heal. Therefore, if we work with it instead of acting upon it we become better able to understand and see ourselves as a whole being, not just a lot of disparate parts.

Our body sends us signals. It is trying to call our attention to an area of concern. When we cooperate with these signals in a meaningful way, we are better able to support the healing process.  In the case of adrenal fatigue, the presenting symptoms are vague. A traditional medical practitioner will look for a specific problem. Common diagnosis include, IBS, depression, anxiety, acid reflux and/or blood pressure issues. Treatment of choice is an over the counter or prescription drug. We may gain some relief of symptoms but we treating secondary conditions does not address underlying cause(s).

OUR BODY IS OUR BEST OFFENSE

There are two forces at work that impact our ability to recover and heal from adrenal overload. First, is our survival instinct that does everything it can to see that we survive. It’s less interested in whether or not we thrive. As an innate physiological response, the survival instinct and its physical responses (the adrenal system), react instantly to a perceived threat. Without any conscious, intentional help from us, our body instinctively and physiologically enters a state of fight, flight or flee. A life saving response in the right circumstances, it’s not such a good thing in modern times. We are bombarded daily with what our body and adrenal system perceives as threats of bodily harm, when in fact they are not. Our body doesn’t know the difference between the news and reality. It’s more about perceived danger than actual danger. This is where the mind comes into play.

Our minds have evolved to the point where they’ve become very adept at overriding our instinctual response. When we watch something that angers us on TV we don’t jump up and punch the TV. We may turn it off and go do something else. This is a healthier response but our body has already amped up adrenaline production, and, it takes time for it to dissipate. However, we move on to the next hit. And the next. Multiply this by a hundred times a day and our physiological response begins to work over time and our body becomes fatigued.  This fatigue often shows up as things like depression, weight gain or loss, aches and pains, susceptibility to viruses and colds, IBS, high blood pressure, etc.

…AND OUR BODY’S SIGNALS OUR BEST DEFENSE

Our body wants to heal. When we work with it, instead of against it, it’s a happy camper. To treat adrenal fatigue we must stop ignoring what it is telling us. In fact, we need to pay very close attention and learn to understand its language.  The days of “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” is over. That edict served its purpose for previous generations. We are smarter now. More aware and better informed. We can choose to do things differently and we must.

TREAT ADRENAL FATIGUE NOW

relaxing lavenderThe three most important tools at our disposal are:

  1. Develop an awareness of our body’s signals and what they mean
  2. Practice a lifestyle that includes rest, quiet and a stimulus free environment
  3. Support the body’s healing process with good nutrition and basic supplements

TUNE INTO YOUR BODY’S SIGNALS

This takes time, attention and practice. It is necessary for most of us to obtain the support of a professional who can help us interpret our body’s signals. Scientifically based, there are patterns we can learn. For example, what you may be experiencing as lethargy may be a signal of mild food allergies. Or, intermittent low-grade depression may be a signal of an imbalance in the digestive system. Use of antibiotics and/or unbalanced food choices tend to lead to this problem.

If this sounds too complicated or overwhelming, don’t worry about it. What’s important right now is to begin paying attention to what you are doing and keeping track. Keep a journal of what you eat, how you feel, your sleep patterns and environmental influences. Pay attention to anything that repeats itself. For example:

  1. Do you have trouble falling asleep or waking up?
  2. Or, always wake up at 3 a.m.?
  3. Do you have lows at particular times of day?
  4. What foods does your body reacts negatively to?

Keep a list. Your initial goal is simply to become more aware.

REST & QUIET

Our body, and our adrenal glands in particular, needs ample time to reestablish an equilibrium. How much rest and quiet is needed varies from person to person.  However, if you believe you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, or any kind of stress overload, take steps right away to begin modifying your life.  Begin today by adding just a little bit more rest and quiet into your daily routine.  This can be done by turning down the volume on the radio, turning off the TV, and turning your attention away from the news that pours in 24/7. Spend less time on social media and more time reading a good book or doing something creative. Spend more time outside with nature and less time driving, shopping and doing. It’s amazing what just a few simple steps can do to help your body heal.

SEEK MORE SUPPORT AND DO LESS SUPPORTING

We women think it’s our responsibility to hold up the world. In many ways it is. However, we must learn to hold ourselves up first. One of the best things to do to reduce stress is to associate with more positive, supportive people and spend less time with negative people. You can still listen to your troubled friend, just change the balance. For every hour with him/her, spend twice the time with someone who listens to you or with whom someone who is energizing.

DRASTICALLY REDUCE STRESS

At first it may be necessary to take drastic steps toward stress reduction in order to get back in touch with what it feels like to be relaxed. Most of us have forgotten. We also need to take drastic measures to provide ample support for the healing of the body.  Once we’ve repaired the damage we can add some stress back in. Returning to a high state of stress must ever be a priority as that was the cause of the problem in the first place!

Major, stubborn stressors such as a job, a marriage/relationship, caregiving, difficult children are not easy to turn off and may take time to change. Begin today by making yourself and your health a priority step by step.

THINK OF BALANCING A SCALE

It helps to think of the giant scales of justice when we begin to treat adrenal fatigue. One side of the scale is filled with things that stress us and drain our energy reserves. To begin to balance the scale we must add positive, healing practices and remove energy depleting, stress creating habits from the other. Bit by bit as we add in healthier food, more quiet time, healthful exercise (such as yoga, stretching and gentle exercise), more time in nature, more time doing what we enjoy doing, and less time pushing ourselves to do things that drain us, the scale will start to balance and we will start to feel better.

A PROBLEM THAT TOOK TIME TO DEVELOP TAKES TIME TO RESOLVE

Once we understand the nature of adrenal fatigue, we must then accept that it takes time to heal. In order to keep adrenal fatigue at bay permanent lifestyle changes are necessary. There are no quick-fix solutions, but incremental changes can not only improve our quality of life physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

A personalized, one-step-at-a-time approach to overcoming adrenal fatigue is best done with the help and guidance of someone who understands the process. Long-standing, well-entrenched and often unconscious life-style habits of thought and behavior are in large part responsible for leading us into our adrenal crisis.


Coming Soon: Support for the Healing Journey

How to Find a Health Practitioner to Address Adrenal Fatigue

Helpful Dietary Changes to Support the Healing of Adrenal Fatigue

How to Chance a Stressful Life into A Life You Love

Developing A Mindfulness Practice

Developing A Mindfulness Practice

Spa-imageUntil recent years, our western culture has been driven by thought processes that are nearly the antithesis of the practice of mindfulness.  Our generation, in particular, was taught at a very early age to think ahead, to plan, to set goals, and to learn from our mistakes. We believe that what we are doing today should, in some way, serve our future. And yet, we are far from being secure and at peace in our “old age”. Instead,  we are a generation plagued by stress related illness and disease. The light, however, is beginning to dawn on many, that maybe there is another way. The age old practice of mindfulness meditation is gaining in popularity.

Serious research into the scientifically measurable benefits of meditation has only been undertaken in the last ten years.  “In 2000, there were 70 studies published in peer-reviewed journals using the terms mindfulness, yoga, or meditation; in 2011 there were 560,” said David Vago, an associate psychologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, as quoted in an article in the Boston Globe.  It is clear that there are benefits, but what remains to be learned is who benefits, how much of what type of meditation is required, and findings that can be used to tailor treatment. Although research is, at yet, inconclusive mindfulness and meditation are being used as part of therapeutic regimens to treat chronic pain, PTSD, stress, depression, addiction, high blood pressure, anxiety and other chronic illnesses.

201-x600-get-sited-meditationTAKE A STEP

If you have never practiced meditation or mindfulness, you’re in for a treat. First of all, it’s simple. Second, it’s easy. Third, it’s calming.  In other words, it’s easy to do and feels good.

Here are a few ways to begin:

1. Take a conscious breath. That’s it! Just breathe, in and out, but do it consciously. Focus your attention on the process of breathing. Close your eyes if you can and feel the breath coming in through your nose and filling your lungs; follow it into your chest and back out again. You can do this anywhere, any time. Just do it. Once a day is enough to start. Work your way up to five times a day, spread throughout the day.

2. Begin to slow yourself down and tune in to what is going on in the present moment. When you’re eating, take a breath before you take your first bite. Focus on the sensations in your mouth as you chew and swallow.

3. Take five minutes a day to do nothing. Just sit, breathe and let your thoughts come and go as they wish. When you are comfortable with five minutes, increase it to ten, then fifteen.

4. When you walk into a room, notice your surroundings. If it is a place you have been before, look for something new that you have not seen before.

5. When you are walking, feel the muscles in your legs, the sensations in your arms, your back, your feet. Tune into your body.

6. When you are driving, turn off the radio, hang up the phone and listen to the sounds of your car as it drives down the road. Hear the tires whirring, the fan blowing, and the rattles or creaks, or the quiet. Open the window and feel the air on your face.

7. When your phone rings, take a deep breath and listen to it ring a second time before answering it.

 

 

Quiet ~ Just a Small Dose Can Make a Difference

Quiet ~ Just a Small Dose Can Make a Difference

Photo by D. Sander

It is so easy to wander away from our dreams. Everywhere we go, there are enticing diversions calling for our attention. I can’t help but wonder why it is so difficult to stay focused on what we know is good and right and true…for ourselves. Perhaps it’s the result of a lifetime of living up to everyone else’s expectations and demands. It’s so easy to tune out our own desires when the world around us clamors for attention. Now, later in life, when those demands have quieted we may find ourselves disconnected from our inner voice, at least the one that tells us how to live our dreams. Chances are we just no longer recognize the still, small voice that is us, if we ever did. Now is the time. It is time to tune in, time to connect with our deepest selves and time to let it take us where it leads.

Most of us have the time we need now to develop a daily practice of tuning in. A few well-developed practices will strengthen the muscle of attention that will keep you connected to yourself. You are still there. It’s just a matter of reconnecting. These practices will reawaken your ability to tune in to yourself so that you can hear, once again, your true voice. They will help you come home if you’re feeling lost.

Quiet

Quiet is the balm that soothes for some and a terrifying void for others. But no matter where you are on the continuum, it is okay. Just begin. Begin to add a small dose of quiet to your day. Every day. Whether it is five minutes in the car after you’ve turned the engine off and before you’ve opened the door, or while sitting alone on your back deck in the sun, find a time and a place and breathe. Breathe in the stillness. Breathe in the clarity of quiet. Connect with whatever it is that feels like the center of your being. Then build on this every day. Add five more minutes, or ten until you are comfortable and connected with that which you already know is the still small voice within.

Beauty

Take in the beauty around you. If there is none, find some. Dwell on a beautiful flower, a masterful painting, a lyric in a poem, a melody that lifts your spirits. Absorb beauty in all its magnificence and that we too often ignore. Replace the violence of the news with the lilt of Enya’s melodies. Assemble the most beautiful photos you can find and place them where you will see them often. Whenever possible seek beauty first.  The beauty that touches you is within you. If you feel moved to create, create something from the beauty that comes from within you. The act of creation connects us to ourselves and is the core of the dreams we’ve yet to uncover.

Rest

Rest deeply, fully, completely. Stop the forward motion of your mind and body. Put aside that one more thing that you think you must do and rest.  Sleep if that is what comes. Sit. Read. Listen. Turn down the volume of your thoughts in any way you can. Busy your hands with needle work if you must, but make sure that what you are doing with your hands is beautiful and creative. If you can go away from your day-to-day demands to a place that nurtures your soul ~ the beach, a mountain-side cabin, a library or bookstore. For an hour, a day or a week, whatever you can manage, whatever the deep fatigue and disconnect within you requires. You will know. Turn off the demands and rest.

Begin

Begin today in whatever way you can to connect to you and the creative spirit that is your life force. Step by step, moment by moment be still and rest in the beauty that is you.