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It has been 8 months since my world pretty much came crashing down around me in more ways than one. For the past 10 years I have been living in a Chaotic mess. I seemed to draw Chaos to me. I had no idea of the toll that living a life, suspended in such a high and prolonged state of stress would take on me physically, mentally and spiritually. The comedown had been on the cards for a long, long time, I saw many warning signs along the way but I didn’t have the time, knowledge or where-with-all to deal with this thing called Life. In short, life sometimes causes us to crash so we can stop, wake up and get a clue. I am extremely grateful and honoured that God helped me out of my chaos and showed me things can always get better. Basically this is what I have gleaned and put into action over the past 5 months from a myriad of people, books and conversations to finally give me the resources to calmly and gently Kick Adrenal Fatigues Arse Once And For All !
I have a Smoothie for breakfast (containing protein and good fats) as it is easy on the digestive system. Digesting food and its nutrients requires energy from the body to break it down. As fatigued people need to conserve or redirect energy elsewhere this is a gentle way for your body to start the day.
I have Breakfast within one hour of arising to keep my blood sugar levels from dropping. Many fatigued people skip breakfast as we’re not hungry first thing in the morning due to our low liver function. Having breakfast prevents our body of having to play catch up for the rest of the day and also helps the dreaded mid morning sugar/coffee slump we usually end up in. Note: Coffee does NOT constitute breakfast !
I boosted my Vitamin C levels through supplements to get me kick-started then maintained through diet. The more cortisol (stress hormone) used the more Vitamin C your body uses.
Small increases of cortisol produce positive effects like improved memory, reduced sensitivity to pain, and increased sustained energy. However, elevated cortisol levels from prolonged or chronic stress can cause side effects such as suppression of thyroid function, cognitive impairment, increased blood pressure, decreased bone density, and blood sugar imbalances. High levels of cortisol can also lower your immunity and inflammatory responses, as well as slow down the wound healing process. [Cortisol and The Stress Connection. John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins Virginia Hopkins Health Watch, One-to-One Inc., 2009]
I have begrudgingly become more Disciplined in what I Need to do. This was something I really struggled with as I saw being Disciplined as boring and self-limiting. I am a free spirit after all 😉
I thought of my Recovery as a fulltime job. My fatigue has improved immensely just by doing the little daily things I need to, regularly.
I Walk, not power walking with a purpose, just out and about strolling. I’m fortunate enough to live in the most beautiful country in the world *cheeky* so walking in nature is my absolute lifeline. I struggled with this when living in other countries where nature barely existed or I worked from dark until dark but perhaps you can download nature sounds if that’s your thing and Walk. We all know exercising instantly boosts endorphins but exercise gently when you have chronic fatigue.
The biggest change I had to make was to my Nutrition / Diet or lack thereof. Martha Stewart, Nigella Lawson I am not. My nutrition consisted largely of eating out and snacking on highly sugared and processed foods to keep me going interspersed with the Cigarette and Caffeine Diet I followed when I became a bit pudgy. Smoothies, Juices, Chia Seeds, Spinach and the rest of The Superfood Family were NOT a part of my world. I didn’t have the energy, inclination or time to shop or cook. I had a Mum who cooked like a trooper for me and boyfriends who loved to cook so I had never really needed or wanted to learn. Slowly I am having to learn to do this for myself and to eat properly and regularly. The foods I did eat were nutrient deficient therefore I gained no energy, nutrients or goodness from what I was putting into my body. That coupled with my Celiac Disorder meant my hair was not growing and was actually starting to fall out. If that doesn’t call a girl to action then I don’t know what will 🙂
I Cut the ‘Energy Vampires’ out of my life. I know this sounds harsh but these people DRAIN mental, physical and spiritual energy stores. Energy Vampires, you know the ones, you see them coming and swear under your breath, roll your eyes, tense your body, breathe more rapidly and feel absolutely exhausted and depleted before they’ve even said hello. I had become so depleted in this area of my life, looking after and advising all of my clients and friends and I think most women fall into the same trap as we are taught to be kind, compassionate and understanding. In the end I had very little contact with people for a number of months until I felt a bit better. Now I choose who I give my time to, who I limit and who I have no contact with anymore.
I started being True to myself, I had always despised that expression, I found it ‘very Oprah’ and never truly knew what it meant until I stopped and had time to rest. I literally didn’t have the energy to play the game or be who I thought I should be anymore and more importantly I started to Speak. My best friend said to me once, ‘Speak, tell them how you feel’. It was such a simple statement but I heard her that day, its something I still struggle with but it feels great to have a voice, to be heard and know ones worth. In fact, she is the reason I started this blog – to have a Voice. Often as women we don’t want to rock the boat or cause problems, we’re the peacemakers, I have played that role too long and it had taken its toll. Now I have a clear set of values, personally and professionally that wont be crossed.
I Let Those Close To Me Into My World more, I’m not by nature all trusting, I can be extremely bubbly and very friendly but very few people know the real me. Those who have proven to be true friends – all 2 or 3 of them know me intimately, well and I feel safe in that.
I Invested in a Juicer and Blender, eating copious amounts of vegetables everyday was not an enticing thought at first but it is an easy and tasty way to gain the nutrients your body craves. Note, not ALL juices are horrid, trust me. Lastly I finally embraced my Celiac Disorder and have cut out refined flours and have started to change my food intake accordingly. Eating gluten causes major inflammation and a number of physical problems but I Love bread. Understand this, I could LIVE on bread, I adore all of them, Ciabatta, Bagels, Baguettes, Cheese Scones, Pastries on and on I could go. This was and still is not an easy change for me. There are some great artisan gluten free breads out there now, many more than when I first got diagnosed years ago but they just don’t taste like ‘real’ bread. I have had many a mishap trying to bake gluten-free bread but I still try. This March I’m looking forward to taking part in a Gluten Free Made Easy Cooking Workshop to learn more from others.
I cut out all Stimulants such as cigarettes, alcohol, energy drinks, high-sugar laden foods and caffeine. Thankfully I have never been much of a drinker so alcohol was easy. I finally quit smoking last June after smoking for ALOT of years, it was tough as I have always been a worrier prone to anxiety and bad nerves. Whatever you want to call them, ciggies were my crutch, my friend and were always there for me when life got tough. Sad huh. I still miss them sometimes emotionally but the thought of inhaling all those toxins again thankfully grosses me out.
I cut down on Caffeine, I thought this was going to be Impossible to be honest, I was a 6 double espresso’s a day girl. I truly believed they were what kept me going and if I stopped I wouldn’t make it through the day. The headaches were not fun plus I had just quit Cigarettes 6 months earlier, notice I didn’t do them both at the same time haha. Firstly, I don’t think I would have been able to physically but also realistically I didn’t want this to be a crash diet type quitting. Remember to know your limits and accept them. I didn’t quit them both cold turkey it was more of a slow culling process for me, we all learn differently and this is good. Please don’t stress you can incorporate caffeine back into your world at a later date if you desire. Now I have one coffee a week and man do I enjoy it ! I love this post by fellow blogger The Holistic Ingredient regarding coffee. Instead I have started drinking Jasmine Green Tea or Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with warm water. I love Apple Cider Vinegar as it contains a myriad of mineral and antioxidants plus it helps to curb sugar cravings.
“Forbid adrenal stimulating foods and drugs, especially coffee … The adrenals are already over-stimulated.” (Practical Endocrinology, 2nd Edition, Henry R Harrower , ’29, pg. 86)
I allow myself to Rest, do nothing or sleep. Initially I would say things like ‘I’m allowing myself to be lazy’ but how harsh is that, my body was broken and needed rest. Okay, so I lied a little, initially my body and mind just shut down on me and I slept and barely spoke to a soul for months wondering what was wrong with me. Then I slowly moved into ‘allowing myself’ tired days. Now I’m at the I Feel Fantastic One Week Stage and then the I Am Exhausted This week Phase. I’m just stoked that progress is being made.
I learned to Breath and Meditate properly, Check out my post by Kavita Maharaj. Download some Guided Meditations and sneak away in your lunch break.10 minutes is all that is needed sometimes to re-balance yourself midway through the day. I do it in bed at night sometimes too just to re-centre myself on an extremely stressful day. You don’t need to be an expert, I found a lot of information on You Tube which helped lead to other websites. I found a free adult course in my city that offers Meditation Classes every Monday night for 8 weeks. They often run free workshops and seminars too so check your community newspapers.
Explore Alternative Therapies, like most things, what works for me may not work for you as our bodies may be healthier in certain area as waning in others. I adore my G.P, my family and I have been with her for over 20 years so I’m very comfortable in being too open and honest with her. Unfortunately adrenal fatigue isn’t recognised by mainstream medicine or taught in medical schools. Integrative Doctors however are fantastic. They treat the Mind, Body and Spirit holistically. I’m fortunate in that I’m trained in holistics so I sought out the healing benefits of Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine and various Ayurvedic practices.
I use a Neti Pot every morning. That sounds like an incontinence related problem but basically it’s the Ayurvedic practice for nasal irrigation. Many adrenal fatigue sufferers have never fully healed from previous surgeries, viruses or respiratory illnesses. I have always suffered from hayfever, recurring tonsilitis and had glandular fever so on moving to The Middle East the constant inside air conditioning in the summer months and sand being blown in every direction 24/7 including into a/c ducts creates an epidemic of chronic sinus infections in most of the people I know over there. It is well known in the bigger cities of the developed part of The Middle East that there is a higher than normal rate of Legionnaires Disease present due to not just the environment but the unclean air conditioning ducts. Cheap and lazy landlords and company bosses refuse to pay money into huge apartment buildings to have them cleaned on a regular basis. Modern medicine treats this with antibiotics. But I digress. Adrenal fatigue boasts a series of varying imbalances within the body, so I set about to clear up these varying ailments using many different practices. Regarding the practise of nasal irrigation:
The physical effects are the reduction of colds, hay fever, tonsillitis, and sinus infections. The subtle effects are the increased ability to preform breathing exercises. Anahatabalance.com
Explore your own Spirituality. Reconnect with Your God. A busy life doesn’t lend time to truly connection of any kind these days. I recently posted Why Mind-Body Medicine Is Not Just For Crazy Hippies by Jessica Walters who points out some fantastic research that has been done on the connection between spirituality and healing.
Acknowledge God or your Higher Power, rest in the fact that if you don’t get something done, the world still goes on. We ARE NOT, contrary to our own beliefs, the centre of our own Universe 🙂
I am Not Contactable 24 hours a day anymore. Pre-burn out I was a Blackberry Addict, dealing with information and socialisation overload 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I had what is commonly known as FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Nowadays you can miss me out, I don’t care !
It is important to be in bed and asleep before your second wind hits at about 11pm. Riding your second wind and staying up until 1.00 or 2.00AM will further exhaust your adrenals, even though you may feel more energetic during that time than you have felt all day. In order to avoid this pitfall, make sure that you are in bed before 10.30PM, so that your adrenal glands do not have a chance to kick into overdrive for that second wind.
I realise going to bed may be difficult for many as this is when you finally get some ‘me time’ after the kids have gone to bed and everything else has wound down. Again I fought this for awhile feeling it was ridiculous to go to bed so early but after a few nights it was what my body wanted. Remember this is for healing and just like caffeine Im sure you can pull the odd all nighter or late night further down the healing path. I have had in the past terrible bouts of Insomnia through worry or just being Tired but Wired, I started taking Magnesium Ultra Supplements which helps to ease and relax the nervous system.
I started practising Iyengar (restorative) Yoga to right a few physical wrongs I sustained in car accident several years ago in which I broke my jaw in three places, as well as my neck, 6 ribs, femur and knee bone, collapsed a lung, lacerated my liver and spent a week in an induced coma. I love the yoga practice but not how pathetically weak and inflexible I am at present 🙂
I started to practice Gratitude. We had a power cut recently for three hours, I know this sounds pathetic but it just happened to coincide with dinner time and I was super hungry that night. I couldn’t have a hot drink, watch television or use the computer. I now appreciate Electricity more ! I’m thankful for hot showers, fresh air, rain, the sun, my family and handsome men 🙂
I started to Bathe in Epsom Salts once a week and give my body a good ole scrubdown to increase my Mg and help rid it off excess toxins. Please read this about the benefits of bathing in Epsom Salts and they are cheaper to buy than bubble baths and bath bombs. YAY !
I Have Faith, I rarely give up. I huff and I puff, I throw tantrums and crack a fit some days but I never give up. I never would have believed this time last year that I could feel as happy and content as I do today. You may not have the energy and strength right now but do the small things regularly, lighten up on yourself and I promise things will get better..
I Read anything I could get my hands on about healing, natural, alternative, mainstream, I’m sure my Doctor is sick of me. These two books helped me immensely and if you are suffering or think you may have Adrenal Fatigue I strongly suggest you get them:
Adrenal Fatigue, The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr James Wilson, N.D, D.C, Ph.D
REVIVE ! End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again by Dr Frank Lipman
I Learned to Laugh again (whilst sober), unfortunately my best friend is on the other side of the world now but she still cracks me up via a completely inappropriate email or text message about a thought she had. We have a thing about making each other laugh out loud in inappropriate places at inappropriate times. Make some time to watch your favourite comedy show and disconnect from watching The News for six months. Believe me you will still keep abreast of all the drama, gloom and doom that exists in the world through work conversations and being out and about but don’t allow it in your home while trying to heal. Knowing every bad thing that is going on in the world and feeling depressed about it does not make you a better person. Make a positive difference starting with yourself, your family and then your community. Start small but don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed too much by life.
I stopped being a Martyr – Ask for Help. Let go of the reigns a little. Again, this is something I have noticed we don’t do much of anymore in Western Society. Keeping up with The Jones’s and not airing our ‘dirty laundry’ takes a toll and separates us from our community. I’m not saying overshare or become helpless but ask for help every now and then. I’m amazed now when I see the amount of children that don’t help Mum or Dad get dinner ready, help in the garden, make their beds before school, have chores to help around the house. I use to work amongst Asian cultures, they all ate together, shopped together, they were a community and shared the load. Lighten your load, open your mouth and speak ! I packed up my apartment and moved it all by myself twice while I was working 6 day weeks, 12 hour days, sick and on antibiotics and steroids as I didn’t want to ‘bother’ friends or family. WTF ?!? Overload, much … Delegation is my new favourite word.
I have been fortunate enough to be able to take a year off work to completely and fully recover. I realise most people don’t have this luxury, people suffering with adrenal fatigue that may have children, dependants and businesses of their own cannot commit the time as I did to fully recovering but I was a severe case, it can be done by making changes slowly as time, energy and finances dictate. Baby steps as my brother says, make a commitment to yourself that you deserve a happy, joyful life that is deliciously Divine !
Adrenal Fatigue is any decrease in the ability of the adrenal glands to carry out their normal functions. This happens when your body is overwhelmed, when stress overextends the capacity of your body to compensate and fully recover. Consequently, the adrenal glands become fatigued and are unable to continue responding adequately to further stress. Adrenal Fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a “syndrome” that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia. Many factors can reduce adrenal function, and it is often an accumulation of such triggers over a period of time which are responsible for the syndrome known as adrenal fatigue. As the name suggests, the paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable or diagnosable entity like a low iron count or Vitamin B12 in the blood, which is typically viewed by the medical profession as the cardinal sign of fatigue. http://www.adrenalfatigue.co.nz/