Is BioStress killing you? Are you about to join the ever increasing number of people who are adrenally fatigued? The Adrenal Fatigue Epidemic is now in full flight!
To some of you, this article may be a bit surprising and even unnerving. Many of us have been taught to work hard, hearing popular phrases such as ‘with hard work, you will get ahead’ and ‘no pain, no gain’. Now while I agree that hard work is the key to achieving many things worth having in life, there is a significant catch here that many of us need to learn (and should have learned years ago, had we known better): there is a certain point which we all reach where too much work leads to diminishing returns and health consequences! In fact, much of what we can blame for the ‘adrenal fatigue’ epidemic plaguing so many today has to do with many people’s lives being simply out of balance. Now, whilst we at White Zebra aren’t going to say avoid hard work (as indeed hard work can help us achieve a lot of wonderful things—like finish medical school!), it is important that globally, we start actively cultivating lives that are more in balance with our natural biological rhythms. It is becoming far too apparent that we, in the Western world, are exhausted and feeling old often decades before ‘old age’ has even arrived.
For too many of us, the constant reliance on ‘energy drinks,’ drinking coffee to stay awake, pushing past when we are feeling really tired, constantly feeling never well rested, falling asleep on the couch at 6pm, dozing off while driving, etc. has become commonplace. These are all potential signs of cumulative, deep-seated fatigue of what we call our ‘HPA’ (i.e. hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal) axis. Today and in the next several articles we’re going to talk about this and briefly, other related issues and also discuss some simple, concrete steps you can take to REEL in your lifestyle, before it exhausts you!
Time Management and Curtailing Overwork Are Key to Avoiding Exhaustion
When asked what he found the most perplexing about humanity, the always apt and pragmatic Dalai Lama said:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”
Isn’t that the truth?! Now while we all know there are plenty of people in true need and may have little choice in overworking, we also know many people who have plenty, when it comes to material goods, continue to work for more and more, often at the expense of their health.
So, what’s the solution to this? Well firstly, while each individual’s life and circumstances are unique, cultivating mindfulness on how you use your time and how you care for yourself is key to not arriving at middle age (or before!) exhausted, feeling old before your time, and increasing your risks for other degenerative illnesses. So…let’s talk about some core principles, that will help, and apply to, many of us, for our collective and individual own good!
- Don’t skimp on your sleep! The average American’s nightly sleep-time average has dropped from 9 hours in 1900 to approximately 6.3 in recent years. Too often, sleep has become expendable but it is important we realise this biological imperative: We need this time to produce our hormones, to detoxify, regenerate our tissues, and to ‘reset’ for the next day’s work! The vast majority of individuals biologically need 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep nightly, so if we are skimping on our sleep, we essentially aren’t allowing our body to get all of its ‘work done’ when we are ‘off work!’
- Ensure you are eating whole foods, rich in vegetables and fruits especially to support detoxification, adrenal health and hormone levels. Convenience foods so common in the Western diet, typically are devoid of many nutrients and can actually deplete nutrient stores from our bodies, contributing to our exhaustion!
- Take time out regularly for deep breathing and/or simple meditation. By simply breathing more deeply and/or taking just 5-15 minutes for a simple meditation, we can take ourselves out of the ‘fight or flight response’ and get into our ‘rest and digest’ or what we call our ‘parasympathetic mode’. This is important as we are not meant to be in a ‘fight or flight response’ for most of the day and we obviously need some resting and digesting time as well!
- Support good health by supplementing with adrenal specific nutritive nutrients like B5, Vitamin C, licorice, ginseng, B12 and others, as directed by a qualified health care practitioner.
- Exercise regularly but be careful of over-doing it here too! While exercise is wonderful for us, it (like most things in life!) can be overdone. Be especially careful of long bouts of cardio exercise such as extreme running (i.e. half or full marathons) as they actually can exhaust us further and stress our bodies’ ability to produce enough energy to function well on a daily level.
While there is much to be said on this complex topic, these are some starting principles to help you start thinking about this in a different light. So in the meantime, take care of yourself and know when to say when!