Do you know the what, where, and why of your adrenal glands? These two small glands of about three to five grams in weight are located above the kidneys. Cortisol, DHEA, and adrenaline are the three main adrenal stress hormones – these hormones help you to adapt to everyday life demands by determining the stress response.
The adrenal glands do not secrete hormones at a constant level throughout the day; rather, they’re released in a cycle called the circadian rhythm. Under normal, healthy doses of stress, adrenals increase the output of cortisol and DHEA. With chronic stress, however, the adrenals cannot keep up with the demand and DHEA levels begin to fall off. This signifies adrenal exhaustion. Adrenaline also surges during periods of sustained stress, causes feelings of anxiety and nervousness.
How can you avoid or recover from adrenal exhaustion and chronic stress? Identifying which elements of your schedule, health, and emotions are within your control to change or adapt as needed can help.
Take Control of Your Schedule
- Engage in enjoyable, meaningful activities which make you laugh and bring you into the present moment.
- Pace your work schedule and balance out time in front of your computer with light exercise outdoors in natural light.
- Get sufficient, restful sleep with good sleep hygiene and a reasonable bed time.
Take Control of Your Health
- Eat real, fresh foods in a combination of fats, carbs, and proteins.
- Drink plenty of water and try a variety of herbal teas.
- Become empowered and informed about your health care.
- Ginseng and/or licorice tea can be supportive, as is adequate vitamin C intake.
Take Control of Your Emotions
- Be compassionate and kind to yourself, with sufficient time built into your schedule for reflection, journaling, personal goal-setting, etc.
- Spend more time with people who are concerned for your wellbeing and share a positive outlook.
- Deal with emotions as needed with laughter, deep breathing, and/or professional help.
Try to take on a few of these new habits slowly, to avoid overwhelming yourself, or focus on building up your control in one focal area at a time. With persistence and positivity while focusing on these tasks, you will be helping yourself to avoid adrenal exhaustion and chronic stress in the long run.