Why Am I Always So Tired? Part 2

The holidays are over. The tree is down, needles are still surfacing and will until April, shopping has come to a screeching halt, the oven is taking a vacation, and I am ready to settle in for my long winter’s nap. Amazing how thinking back to when I was in my 20s and 30s, nothing seemed to slow me down. Nap? Who needed a nap? Motivation? I felt like I could conquer the world! Now, some days I feel accomplished when I get the laundry done and supper cooked. Where did those days go? It has taken me a long time to figure that out. And that, my friend, is what I want to share with you.

Let’s go back to our subject from my last article…adrenal fatigue. Those amazing little glands that pack so much power behind so many functions in our body! Under-active adrenal glands can wreak havoc on our bodies and how we feel. They can make us feel tired and exhausted. Their under-activity can lead to insomnia (seems crazy, I know), hypoglycemia, allergies, low immune system, weight gain (the kind that is hard to get off even with diet and exercise), and so on. That’s all well and good, but how can I overcome this? Can I get my mind and body back? I believe that we can with the right self-care. Let me give you a head start.

Caffeine.

How many of us have to have our coffee in the mornings and/or afternoons to keep ourselves going? Many of us need the stimulant effect of coffee to boost our adrenal gland activity. And, that is exactly what it does, however, this is a quick fix for energy that will do the opposite in the long run. Your poison may not be coffee, but fill in the blank with any caffeinated drink and it boils down to the same effects. If you want to begin to get back to your “old” self, ditch the caffeinated drinks! They do more damage than good. We want to nourish our adrenal glands, not keep them in overdrive all day.

R. E. S. T.

I can’t say enough about letting your body rest. Look, I get it. We live in a fast-paced society that keeps us moving all day long! Football practice, dance class, baseball practice, play practice, orthodontist, doctor’s appointments, work, school, homework, and the list goes on and on and on. Need I say more? We live in the most stressed out society of all the ages. We have more technology to make our life easier, yet we have more stress than ever. Why? Because the more time we can save, the more we just fill it in with other obligations. We never let ourselves sit back and “smell the roses.” Rest is extremely important for those weaker adrenal glands. Even quick 15 minute “cat naps” can make a world of difference. Getting a full night’s sleep is also imperative. Studies have shown that getting at least 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep at night is necessary to maintain a good bill of health. It is during those hours that our body heals and rejuvenates. So instead of binge watching Netflix until 11pm, get in bed by 9 pm and read for a bit and force yourself to turn the light off by 9:30pm (unless you need to wake up earlier, then off to bed earlier!). Another side note, believe it or not, technology can contribute to our weakened adrenal glands. There are many journal articles on the effects of radio frequency waves on the human body and the research on the long-term effects continues. EMF (electromagnetic fields) emitted by electronic devices may actually be a major contributing stress-factor (ncbi.nim.nlh.gov). We can not remove ourselves from this, because whether you like it or not, we are in the age of computers and smart technology. There is no going back. But, we can reduce the amount of exposure to some degree. Several things I do include: 1) never sleeping with any device in my room 2) unplugging the WiFi at night, and 3) not wearing a smart watch to bed. Though simple, these are just a few things to do to help reduce that exposure especially during time of healing and rejuvenation. Remember, rest is extremely important for nourishing our powerful glands!

D.I.E.T.

Another nasty four letter word in my vocabulary. This one I struggle with on a regular basis…especially around the holidays with all of the delightful aromas of fresh baked goodies! My fortitude to withhold my tastebuds sometimes buckles quite easily under pressure. But, with that being said, I can also have the relentless determination to eat clean and healthy; especially when I remind myself of the physiological effects of bad eating on my body. Yep, that will do it for me every time! Diet is one of the most important components of healing your body. But, there is not one cookie-cutter diet to fit all, even in the bounds of nutrition. However, some simple rules apply generally across the board. Rule one: limit or better yet, eliminate sugar. Simple sugars have no benefit in our bodies. They quickly spike our blood sugar levels (aka glucose), causing a cascade of events which can lead to effects like premature aging of our skin, increased fat storage especially around the mid-section, increase in stress levels, energy crashes, tissue and organ damage long-term, not to mention a host of chronic disease states. Simple sugars can come not only in the form of doughnuts, candy, and sodas, but also in potatoes, bread, pasta, and rice. Be careful with the consumption of these foods. They stress the adrenal glands even further. Rule two: limit caffeinated drinks as discussed earlier. Rule three: Anchor each meal with a good, clean protein. This helps to sustain blood sugar levels throughout the day. Rule four: Drink lots of water throughout the day. Limit sodas and sugary drinks, even our good ole southern sweet tea. Rule five: Increase your intake of fiber…in other words, increase your consumption of vegetables dramatically. Most of us do not come anywhere close the recommended amount of fiber our bodies should have each day. Most of that will come in the form of veggies! These are just a few tips to start changing your diet for the better. Obviously, there is far more information on that subject than I have time to discuss here.

Exercise.

Ugh! That’s another word in my vocabulary that I like to avoid like the plague! Although, I think we all can agree that exercise makes us feel better….once we finish. If you suffer from adrenal exhaustion, let me warn you about over doing your exercise program. Going to the gym and working out and running on the treadmill or stepper for 2 hours does not benefit you like you would think. It actually can deplete you more, though it can become an addiction for some to keep the “high” they experience when they finish a hard workout. If this is you, you may see that you don’t feel as energized throughout the day like most people do. That’s because you are further exhausting those glands. Remember they need rest. Now, exercise should not be neglected either. So it is not a cop-out for the rest of us! Consider at this time light to moderate exercise, depending on the severity of your insufficiency. Walking is a wonderful exercise with great benefit. Yoga and pilates can be good alternatives as well. It is recommended to limit it to about 20-30 minutes daily, several days a week. Remember, do not over-train and monitor how you feel in terms of general fatigue and energy levels after exercise (drruscio.com). If you feel worse after exercise, consider cutting back on time or changing the type of exercise.

Quiet.

What do I mean by quiet? Take some time to yourself away from the hustle and bustle of life and just rest your mind. Find that inner calm, and just be still. God reminds us of the importance of this in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. We must take time out of our busy days to just be still. Don’t think, just be still. It’s amazing how healing this can be, even if it is just 5 to 10 minutes a day….and even if you have to hide in the closet to attain it! No judgment here!

I’m going to be honest here for a moment. Most of us have felt “bad” for so long that we don’t even recognize that we feel “bad”…it is just our norm. We have felt bad for so long that we have actually forgotten what it feels like to feel good! If this is you, do not be discouraged my friend; there is hope. Realize that healing takes time and a little more than what I can go into in this article. You didn’t get here overnight and you will not get to a better place overnight either. Be patient with yourself, give yourself a little grace and take one day at a time. We can begin to get our old selves back by starting to take care of our bodies and our mind. Start today by making little changes. It all begins with making a step.

Ruscio, Michael Dr. “What’s the Best Exercise for Adrenal Fatigue?” 25 Aug 2016. https://drruscio.com/whats-the-best-type-of-exercise-for-adrenal-fatigue/

Sima, Shahabi. “Exposure to Cell Phone Radio Frequency Changes Corticotrophin Hormone Levels and Histology of Brain and Adrenal Glands in Male Wistar Rat.” Iran J Basic Med Science, National Institutes of Health, 21 Dec 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6312682/

Dr. Angel Rubelsky, PharmD
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